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Norwich man cleared over murder charge

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:10 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 yesterday was cleared of murdering his baby daughter, 25 years after it was suspected she had died of cot death, but still faces an alternative charge of manslaughter following directions by the judge in the trial.

A father yesterday was cleared of murdering his baby daughter, 25 years after it was suspected she had died of cot death, but still faces an alternative charge of manslaughter following directions by the judge in the trial.

Norwich Crown Court heard that an emotional reunion between David Riches and his estranged son Micah had triggered the events which led to the current trial.

Following the 2007 reunion with Micah, a brother to six-week-old Melanin who died in 1985, Riches confessed to killing her, 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, had denied one count of murder and an alternative count of manslaughter. He also denies six assaults and five counts of child cruelty. He has pleaded guilty to one count of causing actual bodily harm and has also been cleared on direction of the judge of one count of cruelty.

Yesterday at the close of the prosecution case Judge Peter Jacobs directed that a not guilty verdict should be entered to the charge of murder.

He told the jury that at the close of the prosecution case he had reviewed the evidence very carefully and had to be satisfied that there was the evidence to go before a jury.

He said after hearing legal submissions he had decided that there was not sufficient evidence to establish murder however he said they still had to consider an alternative charge of manslaughter,

He said the jury now had to look at the charge of manslaughter on its own merits and that would be for them to decide at the close of the trial.

The start of the defence case is due to begin on Monday as Riches was feeling unwell yesterday.

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