A “despicable” killer who shook a defenceless toddler to death lied to cover his tracks before changing his plea at the last minute.
Connor Gibson, 23, of Melrose Avenue, was yesterday jailed for nine years after admitting the manslaughter of Kacey Hambleton.
The two-year-old suffered horrific injuries in the brutal attack back in April when she was left in his care – he lied and told police she slipped in the shower.
Detectives welcomed the sentence but blasted Gibson for waiting until the last minute to admit what he had done.
Speaking to The Gazette, Det Supt Eddie Thistlethwaite said: “I was disappointed he gave only vague details of what happened but he made crystal clear that she died at his hands alone.
“The injuries were horrendous.
“This was a spontaneous incident that nobody could have predicted.
“What I am not happy about is that Gibson could have told police this when it occurred and no other person need have been arrested.”
His comments come after the court heard Kacey’s mum Louise was in police custody while her daughter was dying.
She was later released and no further action was taken but the court was told she still suffered abuse on social media, where she was branded a “murderer”.
Det Supt Thistlethwaite added: “Only when we had overwhelming evidence to say he had done this did he admit what happened.
“He has caused immense distress to the Hambleton family and my thoughts are with dad Russ, Louise and the extended family.
“No sentence is ever long enough but they are just trying to move on now and rebuild their lives.”
The judge, Mrs Justice Carr, stressed Miss Hambleton was in no way to blame for what happened.
She told Gibson: “What happened only you can know, but for reasons best known to you and perhaps most likely in a fit of temper you carried out a vicious and fatal assault on this very young child.
“You must have caused this conscious toddler such terrible pain and such terrible fear, that is before one even considers the suffering of her family.”
Craig Cleminson, of Crown Prosecution Service North West, said afterwards the attack had a “heart-breaking” outcome for her family.
“This is an extremely tragic case which led to the untimely death of an innocent and vulnerable two year old girl,” he added.
“Connor Gibson initially offered several fictitious scenarios to avoid any culpability, but he eventually admitted causing her death on the day of the trial when he entered a guilty plea to manslaughter.
“Kacey suffered catastrophic injuries at the hands of someone who was entrusted to care for her.
“Today Gibson must now face up to the consequences of his despicable actions.
“We understand that no sentence can in any way make up for the loss of Kacey, but our thoughts are very much with her family at this time.”
WILL I EVER GET THE TRUTH?
A moving personal statement by Kacey’s mother Louise was read to the court.
She said writing the statement was the hardest thing she had ever had to do.
She had been at work on April 10 when she got a phone call from Connor Gibson which would change her life forever. She was told that something had happened to Kacey and that she needed to get to hospital.
“I remember seeing Kacey partially covered on the hospital bed, I saw bruises on her legs and I just couldn’t understand what was going on. I couldn’t get anything out of Connor, I just wanted to know what had happened.
“I had been told that Kacey would be taken by helicopter to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I remember thinking ‘I need to get some spare clothes as I’ll be going to Liverpool and will be there for a while’ but the police officers asked me to stay at the hospital.
“Then it happened, I was arrested.
“I knew the officers had a job to do and I just remember thinking ‘hurry up, ask me questions and let me go, I need to be with Kacey’.
“However, it didn’t happen and I was kept in police custody for three days while Kacey was dying. If Connor had told the truth it wouldn’t have happened, I would have been at Kacey’s bedside with her and that is something I will never get. I was allowed to visit Kacey on Friday morning but I was under arrest and it was not enough time.
“My world was falling apart and the one person who could change it and bring it to an end chose to say nothing. I knew I had done nothing wrong but I was being kept away from Kacey.”
On the Saturday she was allowed to see Kacey again, the day she died.
She said: “Why did Connor not tell the truth? I am struggling so hard to put my thoughts into words. When will I be released from this, I feel never.
“I returned from Liverpool to be arrested on suspicion of the murder of Kacey and questioned again until the early hours of Sunday morning, having just had Kacey die in my arms.
“I was released on bail and from that moment on I was wrongly branded a ‘murderer’ of my own daughter on social media and by people I thought were my friends.
“I tried to put on a brave face but no-one could know inside it was destroying me.
“People judge me wherever I go. I hear people say how I sat back and let this happen. How could I have ever known?
“Finally, I would like to say I have one last question and that is to Connor. Will I ever get the truth?
“Will you ever tell me why you did it?”