A Southsea family who heard toddler Leoni Keating crying in the night hours before she was murdered by a sex beast, helped detectives piece together the little girl’s last terror-filled hours.
Stunned murder squad officers revealed that three-year-old Leoni was dumped in a drainage ditch alive, bound and gagged after being ‘seriously sexually assaulted’ by her ‘sadistic and callous’ killer.
Using information from the Southsea family, detectives knew that Leoni was crying for her mother for nearly three hours before her killer grabbed her.
Leoni’s mother had left her tucked up in bed in a caravan on a Great Yarmouth holiday site while she went drinking.
A massive murder hunt was under way since Leoni’s body was found in a water-filled drainage ditch 50 miles away near the A1065 at Barton Mills, Suffolk.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eric Shields, head of Suffolk CID, revealed that Leoni was alive after her 50-mile abduction and that she had been seriously sexually assaulted.
He said: ‘It is a particularly callous person who dumps a three-year-old child into the water. She was still alive when dumped in the water, and the cause of her death was drowning.’