Mansfield Mum Found Guilty Of Murdering Daughter
A mum who scalded her toddler with piping hot water and then tried to cover her tracks instead of getting urgent medical attention for her child has today been found guilty of murder.
Nineteen-month-old Gracie suffered horrific burns but instead of rushing her to hospital, Katie Crowder used vital time to try to hide her crime and make it appear like an accident.
Gracie, who had burns covering around 65 percent of her body, later died of her injuries in hospital.
A police investigation found Crowder had taken cocaine before Gracie died.
Crowder was found guilty of her murder at Nottingham Crown Court today following a unanimous jury verdict.
The 26-year-old told police that she had filled a bucket of hot water to clean up after the family dog, but she left the bucket on the bathroom floor and went to put on some washing. She claimed that when she returned, Gracie was on the bathroom floor with the bucket tipped over and the floor flooded with water.
However, police found very little water on the floor when they arrived.
The prosecution disputed Crowder’s claims that Gracie had tipped the water over herself, explaining that she could not have sustained the severity of burns that she had in this way. The prosecution argued that the pain caused by her injuries would have made Gracie scream and that there was no way that Crowder could have been unaware what was happening.
The court heard that Gracie’s injuries were not immediately life-threatening and had she received help straight away she could very well have lived. Experts said Gracie’s death would not have been immediate and police believe that Crowder used the time to clean up after herself before getting help.
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Routledge, Senior Investigating Officer on the case, said: “I welcome today’s verdict which serves as justice for Gracie. What her mother Crowder put her through was absolutely appalling and I am glad she will now be jailed for this horrendous crime.
“Nobody likes to think a parent can do that to their own child.
“There was an element of that which we had to face as well as detectives working on this case. We had to keep focus. We were asking people to believe that a mum had deliberately scalded her child to death. That’s hard to accept, that anyone – but particularly a parent – could do that.
“But when it came to being interviewed, Crowder’s inconsistencies were apparent and her story raised concerns from the outset.”
He added the distressing details of the case had a profound impact on everyone involved in the investigation.
“I went to the post-mortem examination, which I don’t mind saying is probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done,” he said. “There was a moment when I had to walk away. It was a challenging thing to have to do, and I was mindful that I had to ask others in my team to put themselves through it as well.”
The case posed huge challenges, as DCI Routledge explained: “It’s one of the most unusual cases I’ve worked on, because normally you have lots of things you can use to help you solve the crime. Things like witnesses, CCTV, intelligence, passive data opportunities – we didn’t have any of that. There is only one person who knows exactly what happened inside that house, that being Crowder, and it was the prosecution’s case she was not telling the truth.
“From day one it became apparent that it was going to be an investigation where we would have to rely on a number of experts. We knew there were inconsistencies in the story, but we had to prove that what Crowder said had happened couldn’t possibly have happened.
“We employed a number of different professionals to explore the mechanics of what took place. As well as the forensic pathologist, we employed the services of a paediatric pathologist, a consultant burns specialist, a consultant paediatrician and a consultant forensic toxicologist.
“We put questions to a number of those experts about Crowder’s version of events - things like the injuries pattern and the feasibility of Gracie being able to lift a bucket of water which was of equal weight if not heavier than she was. Their answers helped us to understand that this could not have been an accident.
“Thankfully these cases are rare, but you never get hardened to a job like this. They aren’t injuries that you will forget. That gave everyone determination to find out the truth. This case meant a lot to people.”
Crowder pleaded not guilty but the jury returned a guilty verdict after a three-week trial.
Nottinghamshire Police was called to Wharmby Avenue in Mansfield at around 6.30am on Friday 6 March. Crowder had taken Gracie to her parents’ house, who had called an ambulance and tried to resuscitate her. Gracie was taken to hospital and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Crowder will be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday 16 December 2020.
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