A woman who battered a toddler to death months after she was made the child’s legal guardian has been found guilty of murder.

Eighteen-month-old Keegan Downer, born Shi-Anne, collapsed at the family home in Birmingham on 5 September 2015.

A post-mortem revealed she died from a combination of septicaemia, infection, blunt chest trauma, and old head injuries.

Her 34-year-old foster mum, Kandyce Downer, of Beckbury Road, Weoley Castle in Birmingham, denied murder and causing or allowing the death of a child.

After almost three hours of deliberations, a jury at Birmingham Crown Court returned a verdict of guilty on both counts.

Medical professionals discovered more than 200 injuries on Keegan’s body, including seven recently broken ribs.

She had also suffered an untreated spiral leg fracture that had left the child deformed with one leg shorter than the other.

Medical evidence heard during the trial suggested the injury would have left Keegan in “excruciating pain”.

Experts said her broken ribs would also have made breathing very painful.

In addition to this, Keegan had suffered a head injury, at least several days old, which had “compromised” her ability to fight infection.

The court heard the toddler also had 153 scars on her body, including her face and neck.

Keegan was born to a heroin addict mother on 9 March 2014 and was placed into foster care soon after.

The court was told that for the first 10 months of her life, she thrived and “was doing everything expected of her and more”.

In January 2015 she went to live with Kandyce Downer who became the child’s legal guardian.

At first the child was “healthy and happy” while living with Ms Downer, who was studying a full-time business course.

In the three months before her death, Keegan was not seen by any independent care professional, including medical staff or social services.

The prosecution claimed that instead of calling 999 when she discovered Keegan “was dying or already dead”, Downer drove away to dump the child’s blood-spotted mattress near a skip.

When she returned she called emergency services telling them: “My daughter is not breathing”.

When paramedics arrived Downer said she did not know when the toddler had stopped breathing because she had been in the bath.

“The likelihood is that Keegan was already dead when paramedics arrived,” Nigel Power QC told the jury.

Downer later told a paramedic at hospital she had left the child alone in the morning.

While living in foster care for the first ten months of her life Keegan, who was known as Shi-Anne, thrived.

Darren Mahon was involved in the child’s care at that time and told Sky News the toddler was “meeting all of her goals” and “was happy and smiley”.

“I feel devastated, heartbroken,” he said.

“It’s like my heart has split into two. I would never expect Shi-Anne to be hurt the way she has been. It should never have happened.

“I cant understand why. There’s no reason for doing that to her. She was not a child who you would even shout at.

“Her smile, her eyes, you just had to look at her beautiful eyes and you knew that she was so happy, they just sort of shone.

“I can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt her.”

In court, Keegan’s body was described as having been subjected to “repeated episodes of inflicted injury and apparent neglect”.

In a twist during the trial Ms Downer told the jury her eldest son may be to blame for the child’s fatal injuries.

She said most of the “day-to-day” care of Keegan was down to her son and three younger children.

At the end of the trial the prosecuting barrister, Nigel Power QC said: “Tragedy is a word overused these days. It’s not an overused word for this case.”

Detective Inspector Harry Harrison from West Midlands police described the case as “shocking”.

“For somebody, on first appearance, who was an experienced and loving mother and well educated, the only way I can describe what she did to Keegan was barbarbic, inhuman and downright evil.”

“We can’t figure out why she did it.”

Now that the court case has ended, the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board says an independent review will be completed to work out what lessons can be learned.

“On behalf of all the agencies who sit on the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board I would like to express our deepest sympathy to Shi-Anne’s birth family and to those who knew and loved her,” the board’s chair Penny Thompson CBE said in a statement.

The findings of the review will be published in the summer.

Source: ‘Barbaric’ Foster Mum Guilty Of Toddler Murder

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