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Soldier jailed for baby death
A soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder has been jailed for six years for killing his 20-month-old daughter.
Lance Corporal Liam Culverhouse attacked Khloe Abrams 18 months after he survived a rogue attack in Afghanistan.
The Grenadier Guardsman lost his right eye in the shootings at an Afghan National Police checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province in November 2009. Five of his comrades were killed in the attack.
The 25-year-old, who was medically discharged from the Army, suffered post traumatic stress disorder following his ordeal.
The court heard Culverhouse told friends and doctors that he feared being left alone with his daughter Khloe.
He said he "feared what he would do if the child would not stop crying".
The soldier was "hyper-vigilant, over-reactive to minor things, irritable, angry and aggressive" following his ordeal. He also had "poor control" of his temper and aggression, the court heard.
However he stopped attending medical treatment provided by the Army in Feburary 2011. Months later, Culverhouse attacked Khloe at his partner's home in Northampton.
The baby, who was just seven weeks old, suffered severe brain damage and fractures to her skull, ribs and limbs in the assault on May 8 2011.
The court heard the injuries were likely to have been caused by the impact of her head with a flat surface, pulling and twisting of the limbs and violent shaking.
Despite hospital treatment, she never recovered and died at the Rainbow Children's Hospice in Loughborough on November 7 2012.
A post mortem examination carried out at Leicester Royal Infirmary found the primary cause of death to be pneumonia caused by the immobility and debilitation resulting from the injuries she had sustained.
Northampton Crown Court heard that when he was arrested on May 8, Culverhouse denied causing his daughter any injury.
He told police: "Sometimes I can't cope with the crying and stuff like that.
"Sometimes she'll be poorly and she'll scream and scream and scream and then I'll get angry but I haven't hit her".
He added: "I'm definitely not responsible for any injuries to my daughter".
But in November last year, at a hearing at Nottingham Crown Court, Culverhouse admitted he was responsible for Khloe's death.
In mitigation, David Howell, defending Culverhouse, told Northampton Crown Court today: "He is horrified by what has happened. The tragedy and the death has weighed very heavily on him coupled with the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan."
Sentencing Culverhouse, of Kingsthorpe, Northampton, today at the court, the judge Mr Jeremy Baker said it was clear he had been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder following his ordeal but that did not diminish the fact he had caused the death of his daughter.
Mr Justice Baker said: "No one who has understood what happened to you in November 2009 whilst serving as a member of the British Army in Afghanistan can have anything but profound sympathy for the effect which it had upon you.
" Not only will you have to live with the physical symptoms including blindness in your right eye, but it is clear that the trauma of that and of witnessing the death of a number of your fellow soldiers has caused you to suffer from significant psychological damage, including post traumatic stress disorder".
The judge added: "This was not a case in which you lacked insight into the problems with your temper.
" On the contrary it is clear from what you told a number of individuals prior to the incident that you appreciated the significant risk of serious harm to your daughter, yet you failed to alleviate the risk."
The judge told Culverhouse he would serve half his sentence before being released on licence.
Khloe's mother, Clare Abrams, of Loyd Road, Abington, pleaded not guilty to the charge of causing the death of a child and her case was dismissed at an earlier hearing at Nottingham Crown Court.
Culverhouse's father, sister and mother were in court for today's hearing but made no comment following the sentencing.
Following the hearing, Northamptonshire Police said a serious case review had been carried out and would be published in due course.
Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Woliter, from the force said: "The death of any child is a tragedy, but this one more so because of the fact that the person responsible for looking after her failed her in the most profound way.
" It is clear from the investigation and from the early guilty plea, that Liam Culverhouse was himself a very troubled man, and clearly unfit to look after a small baby.
"I hope that the prison sentence affords him the chance to reflect on his actions and be truly remorseful for failing to adequately care for his child.
"This has been a difficult investigation, and I would like to thank Khloe's extended family for their support, the professional carers who did everything they could to make her short life more comfortable and the officers who worked on this case.
"A serious case review has been carried out by the Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire and, now sentencing is complete, that will be published in due course."
An Army spokesperson said: "This is an extremely tragic case and our thoughts are with the family. The Army has contributed fully to the serious case review undertaken by the Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire. The Board will be making a final decision on publication now that sentencing has been completed. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further."