Vicious: Dean Cochrane, 24, was jailed for beating and biting a young girl

A man has been jailed indefinitely after he severely beat a toddler leaving the child with two skull fractures, 68 bruises and swelling of the scalp.

Dean Cochrane, 24, refused to accept he had attacked the girl throughout his trial and instead blamed her family.

Cochrane shouted 'nice one' to the judge as his sentence was handed down yesterday at Teesside Crown Court, Middlesbrough.

The child's mother has already received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting child cruelty by neglect.

The toddler's injuries were so severe that police officers were left in tears, describing it as one of the worst cases of abuse they had ever had to deal with.

The court heard how the little girl suffered a complex skull fracture to the right side either from being struck with a heavy object or having her head banged against something.

Another impact caused the left fracture and bleeding on the brain.

The toddler had a bite mark on her shoulder. Cochrane admitted he had bitten her after experts proved that he was responsible by matching his teeth prints. He claimed he bit her only to teach her 'not to bite others'.

Cochrane of Grangetown, Middlesbrough, had tried to cover up the injuries using talcum powder and ink.

He was told he will be released from prison only when the parole board considers that he is no longer a risk to others.

After a seven-day trial, he was convicted of two charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, one of causing actual bodily harm and child cruelty.

The judge, Recorder Carl Gumsley, said Cochrane, who has previous convictions, had shown no remorse for his horrific abuse of a child.
Protecting the public: Dean Cochrane was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court to be held indefinitely

Judge Gumsley said: 'You have what must be regarded as a troubling record of previous offences.

'There is an emerging pattern of violence and bullying. You pose a significant risk - a very real risk - of substantial harm to members of the public, by committing serious personal injury to them.

'The only way the public's safety can be ensured as best as it can be is by the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment for public protection.'

The judge described the child's injuries as 'truly appalling' and said no one would ever know how, when or why they were inflicted.

Police welcomed the verdict and said the child had recovered quickly and seemed to be coping well.

Detective Constable Rebecca Lisle said: 'The injuries the child sustained were horrific and sickened even the most experienced child protection officers.

'Cochrane refused to admit his guilt. He has tried to blame others for the crimes he committed in an attempt to evade justice. His attempts failed.'

During the case, the court heard that Cochrane's had a history of violence which included attacks on friends, neighbours and a former girlfriend.

He was convicted of affray and battery in 2007 and was on bail for abusing the child when he committed a string of offences of violence and disorder.

In March last year, he was given a suspended prison sentence for smashing the windows of a house belonging to a man with whom he had a dispute.

Last July, Cochrane was armed with a baseball bat - police initially thought it was a sword - when he was involved in a fight close to his home.

Three months later, he threatened to torch the property of a friend if he told the police about him stealing a TV from his home, the court heard.

Cochrane, was also convicted of common assault against a former partner who he threw a bottle at during a row.

Peter Sabiston, for Cochrane, said his client must have suffered a loss of self-control, and accepted the court would be disturbed by what he called 'a hideous offence'.