The ‘cowardly’ murder of a young girl shaken to death by the man who was supposed to be looking after her has had a devastating impact on everyone.

Maya Chappell suffered five weeks of torture before Michael Daymond shook her so violently that he caused irreparable damage to her brain.

The 27-year-old had only been in a relationship with the toddler’s mother, Dana Carr, for a few weeks when he started to take out his frustrations on her.

Growing pressure over a drug debt and learning his benefits had been stopped resulted in Daymond inflicting fatal injuries on the youngster in September 2022.

The Northern Echo: Maya ChappellMaya Chappell (Image: Contributor)

Judge Mr Justice Bright told Maya’s family that ‘Maya affected all of us. She will never be forgotten’ as he jailed Daymond for life and her mother to nine years in custody after she turned a blind eye to her daughter’s torment.

Sentencing Daymond, he said: “What concerns me most is that this was not a single episode of uncharacteristic behaviour. It is now apparent that, since moving in with Dana Carr, you had been hurting Maya regularly.

“The injuries inflicted were not as severe before 28 September, but there is a degree of nastiness about this persistent conduct, and especially about what must have been the deliberate targeting of Maya’s pubic mound.

“Furthermore, the fact that you knew Maya had to be kept away from the scrutiny of her father and of the staff at the nursery indicates that you were aware of the seriousness of what you were doing.

“There was clearly a significant change in what you did to Maya on 28 September. Your other worries must have played a significant part, but this was not an isolated flash of temper.”

Daymond was told he would serve a minimum of 20 years before being considered for parole.

The Northern Echo: Michael Daymond and Dana Carr have both been jailed following Maya's murderMichael Daymond and Dana Carr have both been jailed following Maya's murder (Image: Newsquest)

Turning Carr, the judge said: “In different ways, both the Prosecution and your own counsel said that you were head over heels for Michael Daymond, and that love, or what you thought was love, drove you to behave in this way. That could not excuse what you did, but it might explain it.

However, the scales must have fallen from your eyes when Michael Daymond was arrested and then charged with Maya’s death. You were certainly no longer affected by love when you were interviewed by the police and when you were preparing your defence, let alone during the trial.

“But this did not lead you to stop lying and admit the truth. On the contrary, you persisted in your lies, maintaining that you had known nothing.

“If anything, the distance between what you said, and the truth, got wider.”

The great aunt of Maya on her father's side, Kayleigh Crone, read out a powerful victim impact statement outlining the devastation the family has endured since she was murdered last year.

The Northern Echo: Floral tributes outside the home where Maya suffered her fatal injuriesFloral tributes outside the home where Maya suffered her fatal injuries (Image: The Northern Echo)

She branded Daymond a 'coward' and a 'monster' after he showed no emotion during the trial.

"She was the youngest member of our family and for a year we have felt each day tormented not knowing what happened in the days leading up to her death," she said.

She told the court that the 'torture inflicted on her by a man who was supposed to be looking after her' will stay with the family for life.

Branding the pair, cold and calculating, she said: "We hope that during that time (in prison) they are reminded of their despicable actions."

And the judge praised the diligent work of the police officers who worked tirelessly to bring the pair to justice while dismantling their web of lies and deceit.

The Northern Echo: Maya with her father James ChappellMaya with her father James Chappell (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Speaking outside of court, Detective Superintendent Chris Barker, of Durham Constabulary, who led the investigation, said: “Maya was killed, we don’t why or what caused Daymond to carry out such an appalling crime – but he did.

“Sadly, nothing can change his unforgivable actions but at least he, together with Carr, is now facing the consequences of Maya’s tragic death.

“Maya was a defenceless two-year-old girl who should have been able to trust Daymond – instead she lived in fear, and she couldn’t even rely on her own mother to help her.

“My heart goes out to those who truly cared about Maya. This sentencing won’t bring her back but hopefully, it will provide some closure and allow them to grieve.”

The Northern Echo: Forensic officers working at the scene in Shotton Colliery where Maya was fatally injuredForensic officers working at the scene in Shotton Colliery where Maya was fatally injured (Image: Gavin Havery)

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A children’s charity has urged anyone suspecting that a child is being abused to contact them or the police directly to raise your concerns.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said: “The brutality suffered by Maya Chappell at the hands of Daymond before she tragically died is shocking and deeply upsetting.

“It is difficult to comprehend how someone could do this a small child while the mother made no effort to protect her defenceless daughter from these violent attacks.

“Children are among the most vulnerable members of society, and it is vital that anyone who has concerns for their safety or wellbeing speaks out immediately, either to the authorities or the NSPCC Helpline.”