Dad who killed 14-month-old daughter after leaving her with 'catalogue of injuries' jailed

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Dan Ashurst: Dad who killed toddler daughter jailed

A father convicted of killing his 14-month-old daughter, who suffered a catalogue of injuries, has been jiled for 12 years.

Daniel Ashurst, 33, was last week cleared by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of murdering Hollie Ashurst but found guilty of her manslaughter.

Hollie sustained bruises and abrasions to the head and neck area, bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, a broken ankle and two possible bite marks to her hand and thigh.

Ashurst was said to have shaken her in a violent temper while alone with the youngster at the family home in Shevington, Wigan. Hollie died in hospital the following day.

Hollie Ashurst sustained bruises and abrasions to the head and neck area, bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, a broken ankle and two possible bite marks to her hand and thigh. (PA)
The 14-month-old suffered a catalogue of injuries. (SWNS)

Shouts of "monster" and "baby killer" came from the public gallery as Ashurst was led out of the dock at Manchester Crown Court.

Sentencing Ashurst, Mr Justice Dove said: "We shall never know, and in particular her mother and family will never know, the detail of what happened to cause her all the many injuries her fragile body sustained from your actions.

"You have chosen not to be frank about what occurred when Hollie was in your care.

"You persisted in peddling a story immediately after Hollie's collapse, when she was critically ill, which could not possibly begin to explain the terrible injuries which you had inflicted."

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A victim impact statement from Hollie's mother Leanne Thompson was read to the court before Ashurst was sentenced, just days before the first anniversary of his daughter's death.

She said: "Hollie was my best ever Christmas present and a very precious little girl. From birth Hollie brightened up my day with her laughter and cheekiness. She was so happy.

"There isn't a single day goes by that I don't think of Hollie, how she would be growing up and the things we would be doing together.

"I will never be the same again."

Hollie's mother Leanne Thompson said she will 'never be the same again' following her daughter's death. (SWNS)

Ashurst had told medics his daughter had tumbled down two steps on the stairs at the family home in Fleming Court on February 28 but in a defence statement seven months later he claimed a series of unfortunate accidents had befallen his daughter.

In a rush to get her to hospital he said she fell further down the staircase when he slipped and lost grip of her as his shorts pocket snagged something on the way down.

Ashurst then claimed Hollie flew out of her car seat as he braked heavily at a set of traffic lights.

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The Crown said his explanation for the injuries was "nonsense" and was fabricated in a bid to fit the medical evidence.

Jurors were told they could only convict Ashurst of murder if they found he had assaulted her and intended to cause her death or serious injury.

Instead they unanimously agreed he intended to cause her some harm short of serious injury or he realised some harm was likely to be caused.

Unemployed Ashurst was on medication for anxiety and depression and admitted he drank three of four cans of lager nightly - and took cocaine two or three times a week to help him relax.

Daniel Ashurst was cleared by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of murdering Hollie but found guilty of her manslaughter. (Wikipedia)

He used cocaine on the evening before the fatal injuries were said to have happened, the court was told, but he said it had no effect on him the next day after "a good night's sleep”.

Ashurst denied ever harming her.

Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “The death of a child is always heart breaking but this is a particularly heart wrenching case.

"Hollie was an innocent baby girl who was killed by her father who should have been providing care and protection.

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“Hollie was found to have multiple internal and external injuries, which Ashurst was unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for. 

“Throughout our investigation and the trial, our thoughts have remained with Hollie’s mother and extended family. 

"This has been an extremely difficult time for them so I hope today’s result brings them a sense of closure. 

“Hollie will never be forgotten.”

Ashurst must serve half of the 12-year sentence in prison, which includes the 358 days he has already spent on remand.