Jessica Dalgleish suffered catastrophic head injuries while she was in the care of Paul Marsh at her home in Sandgate, near Folkestone, in December 2019. She was flown to a London hospital but died three days later.
Following an investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, Marsh was charged with her manslaughter and child cruelty and was convicted on 3 November 2021 following a trial.
At Maidstone Crown Court on Monday 20 December, the 27-year-old, formerly of Lydd, was jailed for a total of 11 years.
Marsh was left with Jessica on the afternoon of 21 December 2019, but phoned emergency services at 3.10pm saying he had found her on the floor and she seemed dazed.
Paramedics attended and quickly realised that Jessica had suffered serious head injuries. They arranged for an air ambulance to fly her to specialist care in London, but she died in hospital on the afternoon of 24 December 2019.
Marsh suggested Jessica had fallen down the stairs while playing, but his account of what had happened was unclear, prompting an investigation by detectives from Kent Police.
Medical experts found Jessica’s injuries were inconsistent with falling down the stairs and were more likely to have been caused by an impact, such as being thrown against the headboard or side of her bed.
Further enquiries led to the discovery that Jessica had been seen with bruising to her face and head around a week before the incident, suggesting Marsh had assaulted her on previous occasions, before the attack which led to her death. These were not reported to police at the time.
Witness evidence showed Marsh had become increasingly angry and frustrated at looking after her in the weeks before her death and had inflicted the fatal injuries on her after she failed to eat all of her lunch.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber, Senior Investigating Officer for the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: ‘This is a tragic case in which a young girl has been robbed of her life before it had really begun.
‘Marsh was reluctant to get medical attention for Jessica on the day he inflicted these injuries and he has since sought to evade justice by changing his account and lying about what actually happened on that day.
‘A meticulous investigation by my team, including sensitive interviewing of a number of witnesses and careful analysis of complicated medical evidence, has led to Marsh being found guilty of manslaughter.
‘I hope the jury’s verdicts and the sentence handed down today give Jessica’s relatives some sense of closure as they continue to mourn her tragic death.’