January 2012

Baby killer Christopher Sellman free after 18 months

A DAD who killed his baby daughter when her crying disturbed him as he played a computer game enjoys a seaside stroll — 18 months after he was jailed.

Christopher Sellman, 26, was given a five-year term for 25-day-old Tiffany’s manslaughter but has been released early because of time spent on remand.

The Sun tracked him down to a bail hostel in a seaside town on the South Coast.

He spends his days browsing shops, visiting internet cafes and playing pool.

Tiffany was killed the first time mum Pamela Burdge, 24, left her alone with refuse collector Sellman in November 2008.

An official report into Tiffany’s death found it could have been prevented if social workers and health agencies had heeded warnings made about Sellman by Pamela’s parents.

The 6ft 1in brute slammed little Tiffany down on her baby changing mat in a fit of temper in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. She suffered heart failure and bleeding to the brain and died later in hospital.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court convicted Sellman in March 2010. Judge Mr Justice Bean, sentencing, told him: “It seems you were playing a computer game and were annoyed when she cried. You picked her up and slammed her down.

“You intended her no harm but you treated her roughly and unlawfully killed her.”

Angry campaigners last night said Sellman’s early release was yet another failure in the case of Tiffany.

Abuse victim Shy Keenan and Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000 by paedophile Roy Whiting, spoke out on behalf of child protection website thephoenixpost.com.

They said: “The authorities started failing this child before she was born and now they’re all standing well back as the justice system fails her all over again by letting the man who killed her walk free so soon.”

Sellman would not talk about his early release when approached by The Sun. He stammered “I’m not interested” before retreating into the hostel.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Sentencing is a matter for the courts.

“Under the 2003 Criminal Justice Act anyone sentenced to a determinate sentence of more than 12 months must be released from prison on licence at the half way point, any time spent on remand is taken into account.

“Offenders on licence are subject to a strict set of conditions and controls. If an offender breaches their licence they can be recalled to custody”.

May 2010

Father left to kill newborn daughter despite record of child neglect

Christopher Sellman, who was a known risk to children, is given five years for manslaughter of 25-day-old Tiffany

A father with a history of child neglect who killed his newborn daughter the first time he was left alone with her was jailed for five years yesterday.

Christopher Sellman, of Tunbridge Wells in Kent, “slammed” his baby down on a changing mat because her cries disturbed his computer game.

Information about the 24-year-old – who had already had children under his care with a former partner taken away because of social workers’ concerns – was not passed on to the relevant professionals, according to a serious case review by Kent’s Safeguarding Children Board.

The life of his daughter, Tiffany Sellman Burdge, could have been saved if knowledge had been shared about the risk he posed, the report concluded.

The baby, who was just 25 days old, died after suffering heart failure and bleeding to the brain. Sellman was convicted of manslaughter in March.

Passing sentence at Inner London crown court, Mr Justice Bean told Sellman: “Your daughter, Tiffany, was left in your care for the first time when she was only one month old. Within an hour she was effectively dead. It seems you were playing a computer game and were annoyed when she cried. You picked her up and slammed her down on to a padded changing mat with a view to changing her nappy.”

The baby girl turned blue and, despite “desperate and frantic” attempts by the defendant and emergency services to save her, later died. The judge said: “You intended her no harm but you treated her roughly and unlawfully killed her.”

The serious case review, published in March, found that warning flags had been placed against Sellman’s name by the authorities after he was cautioned for child neglect because of the unsanitary conditions in which a child was being brought up. He also had a previous conviction for assault.

Opportunities to protect Tiffany were missed by children’s social services and health agencies, the report said. Relatives twice sought to alert agencies that Sellman’s partner, Pamela Burdge, was pregnant with Tiffany, but the information was not passed on and was never registered.

Had Sellman been identified as the father, and the extent of Burdge’s childhood problems been known, “in all probability, care proceedings and action to protect Tiffany as soon as she was born” would have been implemented, the report added. Tiffany’s death “might well have been averted”, it concluded.

Tiffany died at King’s College hospital in London on 1 November 2008 after Sellman called an ambulance earlier that day, telling the operator that she was losing colour and had gone “all floppy”.

Earlier, in mitigation, Sarah Forshaw QC told the court that Sellman had suffered “a momentary lapse in care which occurred in an instant”. He had been “treated as something of a pariah and assaulted twice during his year in prison on remand,” she said. “Nothing will bring back Tiffany in this tragic case. If Mr Sellman could, he would.”

Sellman was initially arrested on suspicion of murder. He could not give an accurate account of what had happened to Tiffany before his 999 call. During the trial, the court heard how Sellman gave at least five different accounts of what had happened.

Detective Chief Inspector David Chewter of Kent police said: “I’m pleased the courts found Sellman guilty for the death of a defenceless child.

“He has never been able to provide a consistent account of what happened to Tiffany. Pamela’s life has been turned upside down and to this day she continues to struggle with her terrible loss.”