THE FRANKLEY man who wounded and murdered a toddler has been jailed for life and must spend at least 20 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
Sean Sadler appeared at Birmingham Crown Court today after being found guilty on Wednesday, following the death of 21-month-old Lilly Hanrahan.
In spring 2017 Lilly’s guardian began a relationship with Sadler and he became a regular visitor to their home, often staying overnight.
Not long after the guardian noticed bruises on Lilly and photographed them, even alerting the nursery she attended so they could monitor her.
On the afternoon of November 19, 2017, Lilly was left in Sadler’s care while the guardian went out.
Sadler alleged Lilly went to sleep on the settee, but sometime later she would not wake when he tried to rouse her, so he called an ambulance.
At hospital the extent of Lilly’s injuries became apparent when bruising was found on her scalp under her hair.
It was a catastrophic head injury and six broken ribs and, although surgeons battled to save her, she did not survive and her life support was withdrawn three days later.
The following her death extensive post mortem examinations revealed the injuries which experts believed were non-accidental and the likely cause was that Lilly had been violently shaken and thrown against a soft surface, such as the armrest of a settee.
Sadly this was not the only abuse Lilly had suffered when it emerged that she had three fractured vertebrae in her spine and bleeding in her lungs which had happened some two to three weeks previously.
Sadler, of Coriander Close, was arrested and ultimately charged with Lilly’s murder and wounding.
During his trial at Birmingham Crown Court, the jury heard from expert witnesses who testified that they found multiple sites of recent and healing injuries on Lilly’s small body.
They found a total of 40 injuries, including 20 to her head and neck and the rest to her body and limbs. They were considered to be consistent with gripping with excessive force or being slapped.
Lesley Hanrahan looked after her granddaughter for four months after she was born in February 2016 as her daughter was unable to care for the newborn herself and until more suitable care could be found for her. It was then she was placed with a legal guardian and continued to thrive.
Ms Hanrahan said: “Lilly loved to dance.
“She would hear music and her arm would shoot up in the air.
“I’ve got another grandchild and when you look at her, you’d think it was Lilly, and it kills me.”
Det Sgt Al Darby, from the force’s homicide unit, said: “The death of a child is the most tragic of events and in these circumstances is shocking and incomprehensible.
“It has taken three years to bring Sadler to justice and I thank the medical experts for their diligence and tenacity in examining the evidence and putting it before the jury.
“I hope today’s verdict brings some solace to Lilly’s family – my thoughts are with them.”