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Risk of violent Bedford dad killing daughter was 'never shared'

Risk of violent Bedford dad killing daughter was ‘never shared’

Failings by the state contributed to the death of an eight-week-old baby girl, who was murdered by her father, a coroner found today (Wednesday).

Harper Denton was killed by Kevin Eves, now 39, who is now serving a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years before he can be considered for parole.

He had caused Harper multiple injuries, including a fractured skull in at least three separate assaults, before smothering her at their home in Nightingale Court, Wixams, in June 2018.

Kevin Eves

In 2006 Eves, who then used the surname Forbes, was jailed for nine years for causing grievous bodily harm and assaulting a two-year-old boy in his care, while he was living in Bournemouth.

He had swung he child by the arms into a wall, causing a life-threatening skull fracture and a brain injury. Over a three-week period, he had also inflicted injuries similar to those suffered by Harper, an inquest at Ampthill was told.

After the Bournemouth conviction, a multi-agency public protection arrangement (MAPPA) said he should not have access to any children.

Emma Whitting, the senior coroner for Bedfordshire, said in her report today: “On release on licence on 15 July 2010 Kevin Eves was the same dangerous man (arguably more dangerous) that he had been at his criminal trial in 2006.

“Although his case was planned for a further MAPPA review following his transfer to London Probation Service there was no evidence before the inquest of any such review and or subsequent MAPPA meetings.”

She said that after his release from the Bournemouth sentence he came to the attention of the Met police in 2012 and was the subject of two reports of domestic violence against his then-girlfriend named as G. Both involved strangulation. The coroner said the Met police did not report these allegations to probation.

There were more reports of domestic violence against G in Croydon in December 2014.

The coroner said the Met Police failed to investigate whether it was possible to bring further charges against them – identifying as a person who still poses a risk of harm and applying for him to beg the subject of a violent offender order which would mean he had to notify the authorities of his whereabouts and relationships.

Eves was released from prison and met Harper’s mother Cherinea Denton on the internet and moved in with her in Wixams. He kept the details of his conviction from her.

Ms Whitting said: “The deceased was conceived without either her mother, Bedfordshire Police, or local healthcare professionals being aware of the continued risk he posed to her.”

The coroner said: “A chance encounter by Bedfordshire police on 30 November 2017 was a further missed opportunity for multi-agency safeguarding prior to her death. The police had followed him to their address and officers were aware Harper’s mother was pregnant.”

She said there was a “missed opportunity” to carry out further safeguarding investigations.

She said: “The deceased was unlawfully killed by her father who had been previously convicted of violent offences against a two-year-old; failures by state agencies sufficiently to manage the continued high level of risk of his further offending contributed to her death.”

Detective Superintendent Zara Brown, head of public protection at Bedfordshire Police, said: “Following today’s inquest conclusion, our thoughts first and foremost remain with the Denton family and their incredibly tragic loss of baby Harper who was brutally murdered by the very person who should have protected her.

“Before she was born, officers stopped Kevin Eves for routine traffic offences in November 2017. We now know that incident presented an opportunity for further referrals which may have helped to safeguard baby Harper the following year.

“We will be taking forward the recommendations and learning identified through this inquest which will form part of our focus on identifying vulnerability and working closely with partner agencies to keep people safe.”

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