A short life and a violent death

26th August 2005 at 01:00
All Tracy Reid had to do after telling her daughter's P1 class teacher that she was moving to Manchester was go to the school office to give details of Danielle's new school and when she would enrol.

At the time, the five-year-old had been at Crown Primary, in Inverness, for just seven weeks, four of them part-time.

But Reid never went to the office. The next day, October 8, 2002, was Danielle's last at the school. She was never seen again by the staff.

"Danielle had completed pre-school and was reported to be a happy child with regular attendance," says Bruce Robertson, Highland's director of education, culture and sport. "The school was beginning to build good relationships with the home and there were no apparent signs of neglect."

A month later Danielle was dead after being repeatedly hit about the head and thrown down the stairs. Badly injured, she was put to bed by her mother, who had been taking drugs. Danielle could have survived had a doctor been called instead of her injuries being ignored, the judge, Lord Hardie, said when sentencing Reid for her part in her daughter's death. "To that extent, you are responsible for her death."

Why Danielle was removed from school in October remains unclear. During the trial of Lee Gaytor, Reid's boyfriend, for Danielle's murder, and of Reid herself, reports suggested the girl was removed to avoid neglect and abuse being detected. It was also claimed that Danielle was ill and malnourished and sometimes forced to beg for food in the street.

The school knew nothing of this and assumed the family had left.

It was only in January that the murder was discovered. On Hogmanay, the court heard, Christopher Gaytor, Lee's brother, had confessed in a pub to the boyfriend of Danielle's grandmother that his brother had "done in the bairn". This confirmed the worst fears of her extended family, which had become increasingly concerned about Danielle's absence over the previous two months.

When questioned by police, Reid initially claimed Danielle was with Gaytor in England, but a search discovered Gaytor in Nairn, 16 miles from Inverness. Reid and Gaytor were arrested on January 7 and hours later the body of the little girl was recovered from the canal in Inverness.

Reid had continued to cash in Danielle's family allowance since her murder on November 7.

During the trial, it emerged that Reid and her boyfriend put Danielle's body in a suitcase with bricks and tiles to weigh it down, wheeled it three miles across Inverness during the day and dumped it in the canal.

It was a horrific shock for the staff at Crown Primary. Linda Cowie, the headteacher, said at the time: "Danielle was a very popular and happy child in the short time she was with us. Everyone in the school community is devastated at the events that have unfolded. In particular, her former teacher and classmates are extremely upset and indeed youngsters of such tender years find these circumstances almost impossible to comprehend."

On September 1, 2004, Gaytor was jailed for life for the murder of the five-year-old. Reid was sentenced to eight years in prison and Christopher Gaytor to one year for helping to dispose of the body.

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