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Norwich man killed his own baby, jury finds

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:51 02 July 2010

David Riches

David Riches

Christine Cunningham

A "violent and controlling" father was yesterday convicted of killing his baby daughter, 25 years after it was suspected she had died of cot death.

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 manslaughter trial when he confessed to killing his six-week-old sister Melanin , who died in 1985.

A “violent and controlling” father was yesterday convicted of killing his baby daughter, 25 years after it was suspected she had died of cot death.

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 manslaughter trial when he confessed to killing his six-week-old sister Melanin , who died in 1985.

Former 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.

Riches, 51, now of Pezens, France, had denied manslaughter and six assaults and four counts of child cruelty but was convicted on all counts following a lengthy trial.

Riches showed no emotion when the guilty verdicts were returned, but some of his victims, who were in court, burst into floods of tears.

During the trial, Riches was cleared of murdering Melanin following directions by the trial judge Peter Jacobs.

His sentencing was adjourned for full reports including psychiatric reports and Judge Jacobs said: “I think the defendant is a very controlling man who is subject to fits of quite unpredictable and violent behavior.

“There are times on occasions when he seems totally reasonable and other occasions when his behavior becomes completely uncontrollable and violent.”

He remanded Riches in custody to await his sentencing, which will be at a later date.

After the case Det Chief Insp Andy Guy said: “I am pleased that the court found Riches to be guilty of an incredible series of violent events that spanned a quarter of a century. David Riches abused his position and caused pain and suffering to almost anybody that was close to him.

“The investigation into this series of events was very intrusive for those involved. Terrible experiences had been locked away and people had moved on.

“I would like to pass on my personal thanks to the witnesses that showed immense personal courage by giving evidence which lead to today's conviction. Some of these individuals were totally controlled and dominated by Riches in the past and it must have taken great strength to stand in court and relive some truly traumatic events.”

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