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River dad guilty of child's murder

A father was convicted today of murdering his five-year-old daughter after he drove his car into a freezing river with her on the front passenger seat.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court took five hours to find 42-year-old Christopher Grady guilty of murdering Gabrielle Grady.

He was also convicted of attempting to murder his then six-year-old son Ryan Grady, who survived after being pulled from the water by police.

Grady had warned his children's mother Kim Smith she had ten seconds to say goodbye to them before he drove into the River Avon in Evesham, Worcestershire, on February 11 last year.

There was no reaction from the public gallery when the verdicts, both by a majority of 11 to one, were delivered.

Judge Mr Justice Lindblom had earlier warned against any outbursts.

The judge said he would sentence Grady on Tuesday morning.

Grady showed no visible emotion as he was found guilty, but he had waved to his mother as he entered the dock from the cells, and nodded to the clerk as he prepared to ask the jury for its verdicts.

Before adjourning sentence, the judge told the court that he had yet to read victims' impact statements in the case and wanted to know more about the effect of the offences on Ryan.

The judge said: "What I propose is not to proceed to sentence straight away. There is one aspect of the sentencing exercise which needs to be considered and upon which I shall need some assistance.

"In the course of the trial, the court has not heard very much, if anything, as to the effects of what took place on the 11th of February 2010 on Ryan, in a psychological sense, either in the short term or the long term.

"It does seem to me that that is an aspect of the sentencing exercise which is likely to be important."

The judge then informed Grady that he would face a mandatory life sentence when the minimum term for the offences is decided next week.

In a statement read on the court steps, Miss Smith said: "Although Christopher Grady is facing a deserved jail term, this does not take away the fact that myself and my family were robbed of our Gabby just over one year ago and that will stay.

"We are still living with the loss and devastation caused by his actions on that day.

"What must also not be forgotten is what my son Ryan also went through on that day.

"Not only the trauma of the events but that he also lost his sister who was also his best friend.

"I am extremely proud of him as I am my other two children, for their strength despite their young ages.

"Maybe now after today's verdicts we have the chance to move forward knowing that Grady is paying for what he has done."

In a short written statement to the media, the mother of Christopher Grady, Valerie Hubbarb, said: "I consider the trial of my son has been a fair one and I would like to publicly thank the judge, the lawyers and the jury.

"Unfortunately there are no winners in this case. We are all losers, as our darling Gabby is no longer with us."

Alex Warren, crown advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service in the West Mercia region, said: "This is a tragic case in which Grady, motivated by anger against his ex-partner, has caused the death of his young daughter and subjected his young son to an appallingly traumatic experience.

"Though it was never in dispute that Grady drove his car, containing the two children, into the River Avon, there were issues that the court needed to resolve about his intentions and state of mind at the time of the incident.

"The jury accepted the prosecution's case, namely that Grady intended the consequences of his actions."

Mr Warren added: "Our thoughts are with Kim Smith and her son Ryan, who have lost a daughter and a sister, and we continue to extend our sympathies towards them."

Miss Smith, who punched the air as she left the court building, said Ryan, now aged seven, was doing well despite his ordeal and had asked her this morning about the outcome of his father's trial.

She said: "He's seven now and he's doing really well, really well.

"He's not got anything wrong at the moment but we keep things in mind, he's a little boy."

Asked to describe the moment Grady arrived outside her Evesham home telling her to "say goodbye" to her children, she said: "Horrifying, the worst experience ever, absolutely shook to the core.

"He said, 'be outside, you have ten seconds to say ta-ra to the children, the kids'."