A Birmingham mother-of-four has been found guilty of the "barbaric, inhuman and evil" murder of an 18-month-old girl she had only been fostering for a year. Keegan Downer's body had more than 150 injuries including seven broken ribs and an untreated spiral leg fracture that would have been agony. All were inflicted by 34-year-old Kandyce Downer, who tried to blame her son and according to police has not shown a shred of remorse.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how Kandyce Downer made a 999 call to say Keegan - also known as Shi-Anne - was in her cot and had stopped breathing. In fact, the court heard, the call was a lie - Kandyce had already taken a blood-spattered mattress away in her car and it is possible Keegan had died many hours before the call was made on 5 September 2015.
Keegan - said to be a "happy baby" by a day care nursery she attended - had been removed from her heroin addict mother's care soon after being born on 9 March 2014. She thrived for the first 10 months of her life but in January 2015 was sent to live in Selly Oak with Kandyce Downer, an extended family member who became her legal guardian.
Det Insp Harry Harrison from West Midlands Police said: "We believe the abuse started when [Kandyce's] relationship began to go wrong. This was an extremely disturbing and harrowing case to investigate. What Downer subjected Keegan to was barbaric, inhuman and evil.
The death of one so young is always tragic but it is horrifying to think of the amount of violence and suffering this young child must have endured in the last few months of her short life in the hands of someone she should have been able to trust."
Kandyce Keegan said her son and three younger children had responsibility for most of Keegan's "day to day" care and that her son might have inflicted the injuries which caused her death from septicaemia, blunt chest trauma and old head injuries. However that defence was rejected by the court who took just two and a half hours to find her guilty of murder. She was remanded in prison and will be sentenced tomorrow (4 May).
"I am astounded by the lack of emotion shown by Downer throughout this investigation," said Det Insp Harrison. "She has not shown a shred of remorse or sorrow. When she finally gave an explanation in the witness box, she even tried to blame Keegan's injuries on her other children, which I find inconceivable and unbelievable."