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Grieving mother condemns killer boyfriend
A grieving mother last night condemned the “evil” boyfriend who shook her baby to death.
Jerome Edwards killed Crystal Hall-Hummel after losing his temper with the 11-month-old while caring for her.
Yesterday he was jailed for eight years for the manslaughter but his victim's mother said that she had received a far tougher sentence.
Mum Georgina Hummel, 18, from Worthing, said: “I can only pray that in the future he is never given responsibility for a baby or child and he is never again given the trust that I gave him, as my punishment for his crime is worse that any punishment he could ever be given.
“To lose a child is bad enough, but to lose one knowing that they suffered a violent and cruel death at the hands of someone you trust is heartbreaking.”
Jurors at Lewes Crown Court wept as Judge Anthony Scott-Gall recounted how a tired Edwards - who previously had a clean criminal record - shook tiny Crystal like a rag doll.
The child suffered such traumatic injuries one medic said they were the “most severe” he had seen in 20 years.
Edwards, who will be in a prison cell when he marks his 28th birthday today, was yesterday afternoon (September 19) convicted of Crystal's manslaughter.
A jury of five men and five women unanimously found him guilty but he was cleared of murder.
West Sussex County Council last night confirmed that it would be carrying out a serious case review into Crystal's death.
Crystal had been known to the local authority's social services team and had been on its “child in need” register.
Crystal was shaken at Edwards' then-home in Nursery Lane, Worthing, on May 13 last year. She died shortly afterwards at hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Judge Anthony Scott-Gall yesterday described how the tot's life was “snuffed out in a moment”.
Sentencing Edwards, he said: “You momentarily lost your temper with little Crystal.
“This is a grave, unhappy and serious case.”
Describing what happened to Crystal as “quite awful”, he said before the tragedy Crystal, Miss Hummel and Edwards were a “happy little family of three”.
But he poured scorn on Edwards' tale that Crystal suffered the injuries by choking on a bottle.
However, he accepted he did not set out to murder her, adding: “There was no intention to kill that little girl and you are full of remorse for killing her.”
Outside court Miss Hummel, who had been dating Edwards, of Bridgefield Close, Midhurst, for about ten months when Crystal died, paid tribute to her daughter.
She said: “I miss her so much and I will never stop loving her.”
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said: “I am extremely content with this verdict.
“It is a desperately sad case. This was a defenceless 11-month-old baby.”
Serious case review
A serious case review into baby Crystal's death is to be carried out by council officials.
West Sussex County Council had been aware of Crystal and her family and she had been on its “child in need” register, although she was never on the “at risk” register.
Now the West Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board will produce a serious case review that is taking place on behalf of all the agencies involved in the case, including the county council.
A serious case review was carried out in East Sussex after Fiona Donnison killed her children Harry, three, and Elise, two, and dumped their bodies in Heathfield.
A council spokeswoman said: “This was a tragedy for all involved, and we would like to extend our sympathies and thoughts to Crystal's mother Georgina and her family and friends.
"The last year and a half has been a traumatic time for all the family and we hope that the conclusion of the trial will offer some form of closure for them.
“The West Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board is in the process of conducting an independent Serious Case Review on behalf of all the agencies involved, including West Sussex County Council. The initial findings are that this tragic incident was not predictable, and therefore could not have been prevented.
“Now the trial has concluded the board will be working to finalise the review. We will now await the findings of the report, which will be published in due course.”
The family of Jerome Edwards said they did not believe that he killed Crystal.
Edwards put his head in his hands as the guilty verdict was read out to the charge of manslaughter yesterday.
His family and friends in the public gallery called out: “We believe you.”
Afterwards a friend speaking on behalf of the family spoke to The Argus outside court.
He said: “Jerome was a man who had supported the family. He feels for the baby but he did not do anything.
“I do not think that he will survive prison.”
Georgina Hummel's full statement
“It is very difficult to explain how I feel. A mixture of emotions - anger, pain, sorrow, guilt.
“My life and that of my family have been torn apart.
“Before this trial began, all I wanted to know was what happened that night and why my daughter died.
“I was not fully aware of the extent of her injuries and the distress she must have felt before she lost consciousness.
"How can someone do that to an innocent baby, who never caused harm to anyone and who could not fight back or defend herself?
"I can only pray that my little girl did not suffer too much in those last few hours of her life. That would be unbearable.
“Crystal's life had only just begun and was cut short by the violent hands of Jerome Edwards, a man both Crystal and I trusted. She was just a baby.
“For the jury to find him guilty, there has been justice for my baby's death and action taken for the person responsible.
" I know it will not bring Crystal back, but it will ensure he has plenty of time to think about what he did to a defenceless, innocent baby and the pain he has caused me and my family. People now know that he is an evil man capable of killing.
“I can only pray that in the future he is never given responsibility for a baby or child and he is never again given the trust that I gave him, as my punishment for his crime is worse that any punishment he could ever be given.
“To lose a child is bad enough, but to lose one knowing that they suffered a violent and cruel death at the hands of someone you trust is heartbreaking.
“Crystal is irreplaceable. I miss her so much and I will never stop loving her.”