Gary Alcock attacked 15-month-old child after her crying interrupted his computer game
A man was jailed for life today for the murder of his girlfriend’s toddler, whom he viciously attacked after her crying interrupted him playing on his Xbox computer game.
Jurors at Manchester crown court were told that Violet Mullen’s mother, Claire Flanagan, put her “desperate need for a man in her life” ahead of her 15-month-old daughter’s welfare. In the three weeks leading up to her death at the hands of Gary Alcock, Violet was punched, slapped and pinched, before he delivered a fatal blow to her stomach which tore her internal organs.
The judge told Alcock, 28, that he must serve at least 21 years before he would be eligible for parole.
Violet’s 22-year-old mother was cleared of murder, but convicted of causing or allowing her daughter’s death by ignoring the obvious signs of abuse. She was jailed for five years.
For the first year of her daughter’s life, Flanagan ensured her needs were met. But this changed when she met Alcock and he moved in to her house in Oldham. The court was told she ignored the signs of abuse and only confronted him an hour before Violet collapsed and died.
In January, an ambulance was called to their home following the fatal beating. Violet was found to have 38 bruises on her body.
Judge Clement Goldstone QC told Flanagan: “You could have sought medical help, you could have involved social services, you could have asked him to leave, but any of those options would have put at risk your relationship, which you, at the time, priced far more highly than your relationship and love for Violet.”
He said she blatantly ignored the significant risk of more violence to Violet. “As a mother you failed her miserably. That is something you will have to live with for the rest of your life.”
The judge described Alcock as a manipulative individual who had used violence in relationships to achieve control. “Yours was a truly horrific and cruel crime of murder in which you have shown absolutely no remorse or shame,” he said.
Alcock was known to social services and had contacted a family centre for parenting advice. When an outreach worker visited the home, it was noted that Alcock ignored Violet while playing computer games. He has a previous conviction for assaulting a former girlfriend and had been seen to hit children.
A postmortem examination concluded that Violet died from internal bleeding after suffering 35 separate injuries – including multiple bruises, rib fractures and brain damage – that were comparable to injuries sustained in a car crash.
The judge said that in the three weeks before Violet’s death, Alcock subjected her to repeated violence. “You fractured two of her ribs either by squeezing or gripping her so tight that they snapped.
“You caused injuries to her brain, face, arms and legs with a combination of punches, slaps and, bordering on the sadistic, pinches.
“This was the way you chose to cope with a demanding little girl who demanded your attention and interrupted your time-consuming hobby of playing computer games.”
The judge said the blow to Violet’s stomach was delivered with such force that it tore her internal organs. Alcock then put her in her cot and waited for Flanagan to return home.
Flanagan had ignored bloodstains on her daughter’s clothing, in her cot and on her bedroom walls. She did nothing, even though the child reacted whenever Alcock entered a room.
A health visitor described Flanagan as a caring mum who desperately wanted to be loved. Her childhood and teenage years had been marred by physical abuse and neglect, turbulent stints in care homes from the age of 10 and street prostitution.
Outside court, the senior investigating officer, Vinny Chadwick, said: “The pathologist’s report made some disturbing conclusions about how much Violet suffered before her death. Alcock was supposed to care for her, but he abused his position and caused her death.
“We are pleased that justice has been done for taking away a completely innocent life and our thoughts remain with Violet’s family as they continue to come to terms with her death.”