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Baby Ruby killer gets life

PUBLISHED: 13:48 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:40 03 July 2010

A TEENAGER who killed his girlfriend's “neglected” 11-month-old daughter with a blow to the head has been sentenced to life in prison.

Mitchell Cooper, 17, was found guilty of murdering Ruby Spink by a jury at Norwich Crown Court in July.

A TEENAGER who killed his girlfriend's “neglected” 11-month-old daughter with a blow to the head has been sentenced to life in prison.

Mitchell Cooper, 17, was found guilty of murdering Ruby Spink by a jury at Norwich Crown Court in July.

Sentencing him yesterday Judge Peter Jacobs said Cooper must serve a minimum of 12 years

The mother, Laura Spink, 18, who pleaded guilty to neglect, was sent to a young offenders' institute for a minimum of 12 months.

The baby was killed six days after a social services department placed her on an at-risk register.

Following the case, it emerged social workers were “closely monitoring” Ruby's welfare after being alerted to her plight less than two months before she died last September.

Ruby was also said to have been examined by a GP and two specialists in the weeks before her death. All were said to have noted injuries but all thought she had been hurt accidentally.

During the trial the court heard how Ruby's “floppy and lifeless” body was rushed to the James Paget University Hospital on September 16 last year. Spink had left Ruby alone in her room with her boyfriend, who was not the child's father. When she returned a few minutes later she found the little girl lifeless. Her boyfriend initially claimed Ruby had choked on some cake he had given her but later changed his story saying she had hit her head by accident on a wall as he twirled her around to cheer her up. The court heard from an expert witness who said Ruby's head injuries were similar to those commonly caused by a 30mph road crash or a fall from a first floor window. A post mortem revealed Ruby had suffered broken ribs and fractures to both legs in separate incidents before her death.

In July the Mercury spoke to a 20-year-old woman who lived in the Salisbury Road hostel where Ruby was killed.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said Spink would call her baby “an import” because she was of mixed race. She also told of how Spink would often leave Ruby alone in the hallway while she was in her room and that Spink and Cooper would argue a lot. She said that Spink had been a good mother but had “fell in with the wrong bloke”.

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