A MAN has been convicted of the murder of a 21-month-old girl whom he shook and battered to death while he was babysitting her.
Sean Sadler, of Coriander Close in Rubery, was today found guilty of murdering Lilly Hanrahan at Birmingham Crown Court.
Little Lilly was just 21 months old when she was rushed to hospital with a catastrophic head injury and six broken ribs in November 2017, the court heard.
Although surgeons battled to save her, her injuries were unsurvivable and her life support was withdrawn three days later.
Her devastated grandmother Lesley Hanrahan had looked after Lilly for four months after she was born in February 2016 as her daughter was unable to care for the newborn herself.
Lilly was later placed with a legal guardian and continued to thrive, and Lesley was able to see her granddaughter often.
“She loved to dance!” Ms Hanrahan said.
“She would hear music and her arm would shoot up in the air.
“I’ve got another grandchild and when you look at her, you’d think it was Lilly, and it kills me,” she added.
In Spring of 2017 the guardian began a relationship with Sean Sadler and he became a regular visitor to their home, often staying overnight, the court heard.
It wasn’t long before the guardian began to notice bruises on Lilly and began photographing them.
She also alerted Lilly’s nursery so they could monitor her.
On the afternoon of Sunday, November 19, 2017 Lilly was left in Sadler’s care while the guardian went out.
Sadler, who denied murder, alleged that Lilly went to sleep on the settee, but sometime later she would not wake when he tried to rouse her, so he called an ambulance.
At hospital the extent of Lilly’s injuries became apparent when bruising was found on her scalp under her hair, and following her death extensive post mortem examinations revealed the head injury which killed her and six broken ribs.
Experts believed these were non-accidental and the likely cause was that Lilly had been violently shaken and thrown against a soft surface, such as the armrest of a settee.
The court hearing further revealed that this was not the only abuse Lilly had suffered.
It emerged that she had three fractured vertebrae in her spine and bleeding in her lungs which had happened some two to three weeks previously.
Sadler was arrested and ultimately charged with Lilly’s murder and wounding.
During his trial at Birmingham Crown Court, the jury heard from expert witnesses who testified that they found multiple sites of recent and healing injuries on Lilly’s small body. They found a total of 40 injuries, including 20 to her head and neck and the rest to her body and limbs.
They were considered to be consistent with gripping with excessive force or being slapped.
Detective Sergeant Al Darby, from the force’s homicide unit, said: “The death of a child is the most tragic of events and in these circumstances is shocking and incomprehensible.
“It has taken three years to bring Sadler to justice and I thank the medical experts for their diligence and tenacity in examining the evidence and putting it before the jury.
“I hope today’s verdict brings some solace to Lilly’s family – my thoughts are with them.”
Sadler will be sentenced on Friday, March 26.