Evil boyfriend sentenced for 20 years for tragic murder of Baby Eve

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Tom Curd

MURDERER: Tom Curd has been given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 20 years (Pic: SWNS)

Tom Curd has been given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 20 years for the murder of Eve Leatherland in Liskeard in October 2017.

Meanwhile his former partner, Abigail Leatherland, has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for allowing the child to die.

Curd, 31, beat tot Eve Leatherland on several occasions and then tried to cover up her condition by ‘poisoning’ her with a fatal dose of codeine, Truro Crown Court heard.

He inflicted a number of fractures to her skull and ribs in injuries similar to those caused by a car crash.

Abigail Leatherland

COLD: Leatherland let her baby daughter die after her boyfriend beat her (Pic: SWNS)

“They seem to have spent the majority of the time simply watching TV, playing video games, sending each other text messages and chatting to people on Facebook, just feet away from where Eve was weakening and then dying on her bed”

Prosecutor Sean Brunton

But a trial heard that instead of seeking the medical help that would have saved her Curd, and the tot’s mother Abigail, 26, callously ”watched TV, played video games, sent each other text messages and chatted to people on Facebook”.

By the time she eventually phoned 999 Eve had been dead for several hours and rigor mortis had already set in.

Had the alarm been raised sooner, medical experts said Eve is likely to have survived.

Curd was convicted of murder by a jury while Leatherland was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child after murder charges against her were dropped during the trial.

During sentencing Judge Juliet May described this case as particularly tragic as it involved the death of a young child with their life ahead of them and “all that potential wasted.”

Several of Eve’s injuries were repeat fractures meaning her bones were re-broken during the healing process, the jury was told.

Eve Leatherland mattress

SHOCKING: The dirty mattress baby Eve slept on (Pic: SWNS)

During the trial, the jury was told Eve had more than 20 bruises and abrasions to her head and some to her body, as well as a fracture to her skull and had no trace of food in her stomach.

Prosecuting, Sean Brunton said: “All the while neither of them did a thing to help her.

“In fact, they seem to have spent the majority of the time simply watching TV, playing video games, sending each other text messages and chatting to people on Facebook, just feet away from where Eve was weakening and then dying on her bed.”

Mr Brunton told the court it was “inconceivable” in such a small house that they failed to become aware of Eve’s deteriorating condition and that it was their choice to turn a blind eye.

Eve had been the victim of at least two assaults and suffered injuries the court heard were most commonly associated with a road traffic crash.

But instead of being given a small dose of medication to alleviate her suffering she was given so much codeine that she had enough in her system to kill an adult.

Baby Eve cot

NEGLECT: Eve was also found with no food in her stomach (Pic: SWNS)

Giving evidence, Leatherland said Eve had been ill in the weeks prior to her death and that she had attributed her condition to a viral infection.

Leatherland told the jury she had a close bond with her daughter and added: “Eve was very happy, always laughing and joking. I love my children, we have a good bond.”

She said she noticed Eve pale and sleepy and took her to the doctors in the days prior to her death, thinking it was a viral infection.

When Curd gave evidence, he also denied he had ever hurt the toddler.

He disputed claims from his ex-partner Neeve Lovejoy-Thurley that he shook and screamed at his biological son and that he once mistook a lipstick kiss mark on his son for an injury he thought he had caused.

He added that he didn’t call a doctor for Eve because he felt it wasn’t his place to do so.

He said: “I didn’t think I had the right to. I wasn’t her dad.”

Eve Leatherland

TRAGIC: The youngster was poisoned with codeine (Pic: SWNS)

Richard Smith QC, for Leatherland, told the judge that she allowed but did not cause Eve’s death.

He added: “Her culpability lies in failing to appreciate something she ought to have recognised.

“She did not recognise the life-threatening situation her daughter was in.”

He added: “Her culpability was not being in the knowledge of what actually happened.”

Mr Smith that prior to Curd arriving in her life, Leatherland was a loving mother of happy children.

The barrister said Leatherland can’t provide an explanation but something caused her to lose all sight of something she had employed for 22 months.

Eve Leatherland

FURIOUS: Eve’s dad Dean Bird said he wanted to ‘rip the head off’ Tom Curd (Pic: SWNS)

Speaking outside court, Eve’s father Dean Bird said he wanted to “rip off the heads” off the pair responsible for his little girl’s death.

He made the 10-hour round trip from Mansfield to Truro Crown Court every day of the trial

He said he locked eyes with Curd during the trial and said: “I was really angry, I just wanted to rip their heads off.

“I had all sorts of emotions going on and before the trial I didn’t know everything about the case and all of Eve’s injuries.

“I looked at him (Curd) a couple of times and the anger just boiled up inside me. I saw him looking at me and we locked eyes.

“Now I’ve got to win the rights for Eve’s body so I can lay her to rest properly.”

Dean Bird was not named on the little girl’s birth certificate so he now faces a battle for the right to hold a funeral for her.  

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