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Norwich father denies killing daughter 25 years ago

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:14 02 July 2010

David Riches, who denies killing his baby daughter 25 years ago.

David Riches, who denies killing his baby daughter 25 years ago.

Christine Cunningham

A father accused of killing his baby daughter, 25 years after it was suspected she had died of cot death, denied he had ever mistreated the child or harmed her in any way.

A father accused of killing his baby daughter, 25 years after it was suspected she had died of cot death, denied he had ever mistreated the child or harmed her in any way.

Norwich Crown Court heard that an emotional reunion between David Riches and his estranged son, Micah, in 2007 triggered the events which led to the current trial, as following the 2007 reunion Riches is alleged to have confessed to killing his six-week-old sister Melanin who died in 1985, the court was told.

Norwich-man David Riches' is also said to have embarked on a “reign of cruelty” and is alleged to have gone on to abuse a succession of women and children.

David Riches, 46, now of Pezens, France, has denied manslaughter. He also denies six assaults and five counts of child cruelty.

Giving evidence yesterday Riches said he was “over the moon” at the birth of Melanin and became tearful when he told the jury how he found his daughter had stopped breathing after he left her sleeping on the sofa.

He said: “She appeared too still.”

He said that when he found she was not breathing he had grabbed her and told his wife to ring for an ambulance.

He said he tried breathing into her mouth until the ambulance arrived but the baby showed no signs of life: “She did not start breathing again.”

Asked how he felt when told she had died he said: “It's hard to put into words. She was my daughter.”

He said it was something that would stay with him for the rest of his life and said he blamed himself for leaving her sleeping on the sofa.

“If I had not left her face down and left her on the sofa she may not have died.”

He said that he felt guilt over what happened and said: “It has stayed with me for 25 years. It has effected me ever since”

Asked if he had mistreated the child in any way Riches replied: “No, I loved her to bits. It never happened.”

He also denied he had ever pushed the baby's face into the sofa to tire her out and said: “I loved that little girl. She was everything to me.”

He also denied counts of child cruelty and assaults.

The trial continues.

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