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Sean Sadler sentenced to life for murdering Birmingham toddler Lilly Hanrahan

Written by on 27 March 2021

A babysitter has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years for murdering a 21-month-old girl.

Lilly Hanrahan suffered a fatal brain injury and six broken ribs after Sean Sadler shook and beat her at her Birmingham home in November 2017.

Surgeons tried to save her, but her life support was turned off after three days.

The attack happened after Lilly’s guardian started a relationship with Sadler, 32, and he became a regular visitor.

The guardian began photographing bruises on the child’s body in September 2017 and asked the nursery to monitor the girl.

Lilly was in Sadler’s sole care when she was attacked and suffered the fatal collapse on 19 November the same year.

Sadler denied murder and claimed Lilly had fallen asleep on the sofa and that he had called an ambulance when he couldn’t wake her.

His lies were uncovered after doctors found injuries consistent with being shaken, such as bleeding behind the eyes, bruising to the scalp and grab marks on her thighs.

A post-mortem concluded she had likely been shaken violently and thrown against a soft surface, like a sofa arm.

Further analysis revealed 40 other recent injuries, including 20 to her neck and head.

They included three fractured vertebrae and evidence of bleeding in her lungs, from around two to three weeks before she was killed.

Sadler, from Northfield, Birmingham was a convicted of murder and wounding at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday.

At Friday’s sentencing, the judge said Sadler had made “shameful and cowardly” attempts to cover up his role in the murder.

Mr Justice Saini told him: “You delayed seeking medical help for a number of hours and in doing so showed callous indifference to Lilly’s suffering.

“It must have been obvious to you that she was seriously hurt.

“This was a brutal assault, on any view, and you have shown no remorse.”

The court also heard that Sadler had four previous convictions for battery, including hitting a former partner with a dog chain and punching a woman in the face.

As well as the murder sentence, he received a concurrent three-year term for attacking Lilly around a week before she was killed.

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