A 22-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering his then partner’s “beautiful” and “lovely” two-year-old son following a three-week trial at Winchester Crown Court.
Joseph Eke was found guilty of fatally kicking and punching Harry House at their Broadmayne home on May 26 last year while his mother, Lauren O’Neill, was out.
Eke, of St Lawrence Road, Upwey, was also convicted of grievous bodily harm but cleared of a charge of unlawful wounding.
Prosecuting Adam Feest QC told that court that the last time Miss O’Neill saw her son “fit and healthy” was earlier that morning before she went to a local shop to buy washing powder at 9.27am.
He told the court that when she next saw Harry he was “pale and unresponsive” and his lips had started to turn blue.
The court heard that when Miss O’Neill called for an ambulance, Eke told her not to, claiming that Harry would be taken away from her because of bruises on his back.
Paramedics were called to the Main Street address at 9.44am were they tried to resuscitate Harry for over 30 minutes before he was pronounced dead at Dorset County Hospital at 11am.
Cross examining Eke, Mr Feest said: “You were the last person to see Harry uninjured and the next time you saw him you injured him.
“You lost your temper with him, you punished him like when you squeezed him and cracked his ribs.”
Jurors heard that Harry died as a result of blunt force trauma to his abdomen which was of such force that it that split his pancreas in two.
A post-mortem examination revealed he had five fractured ribs as well as a “life threatening” skull fracture and associated brain damage.
During the trial, jurors heard from medical experts who concluded Harry’s injuries were “non-accidental” and caused by “excessive and deliberate force.”
The court also heard that Eke had been a heroin addict who assaulted Miss O’Neill for refusing to give him money to buy drugs.
Giving evidence Eke told the jury that he loved the child who called him “Daddy Joe Joe” and helped with his childcare.
Following the verdict Judge Mrs Justice May thanked jurors for their time for what had been a “highly emotive” trail.
Eke is due to be sentenced on June 5.
Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police's Major Crime Investigation Team, said Harry’s injuries were “catastrophic.”
She said “I am very thankful and grateful for the verdict, it is the right verdict. As far as I am concerned a very dangerous man is going to go to prison for a long time to get justice for little Harry.
“The family are completely relieved. It has been a really, really traumatic time for them. It has been incredibly difficult with the loss of a beautiful two-and-a-half year old toddler who had the rest of his life to lead.
“We have worked tirelessly piecing through the evidence, working with specialists from the medical profession until ultimately we have received justice today.”
Commenting on the verdict an NSPCC spokesperson for South West England said: “Harry suffered appalling cruelty at the hands of someone who should have protected him from harm. He has been robbed of the chance to live a long and happy life.
“Eke was fully responsible for Harry’s brutal and shocking death and it is right that he is now facing the consequences of his actions.”
“Babies and young children are entirely dependent on those who care for them and we all have a duty to look out for their welfare.
“We urge anyone concerned about a child’s welfare to call our helpline on 0808 800 5000 as it could save a life.”