A dad won custody of his four year-old daughter so he could claim more benefits – and then beat her to death just two months later.
At St Albans Crown Court, Carl Wheatley admitted killing Alexa-Marie Quinn in March last year but he denied it was murder.
The court heard that the 'frustrated' supermarket worker lost his temper and delivered a 'sustained period of hard beating' to his daughter.
In the weeks before her death, Wheatley, 30, is alleged to have beaten Alexa-Marie and caused several of her teeth to fall out.
He made several internet searches for 'how to reduce swelling' and 'what glue can I use to put teeth back in'.
Prosecutor Christopher Donnellan QC said Wheatley fought for custody of Alexa-Marie and his three year-old son from a foster family so he could claim more benefits.
He said: "He was of the view that having one or both children with him would enhance his benefits and could result in better accommodation."
The court heard Wheatley called emergency services just after 9am on March 12, 2014 after a 'period of sustained beating'.
He claimed Alexa-Marie had stopped breathing two minutes beforehand but the CPS claimed he waited 'some time" before calling emergency services.
When he eventually made the call he said she was drowning because he believed she had fluid on her lungs.
Wheatley, who has ADHD, cried in the dock as the first 999 call he made to emergency services was played in court.
He told the operator: "She's drowned. She's drowned in fluid, she might have internal fluid on her lungs. She needs an ambulance right away.
"I've had her for a few months, I got a bit frustrated with her and I harmed the poor child.
"I'm being honest with you I need to think about my child."
The prosecution said despite Wheatley knowing he had killed his daughter, he phoned emergency services and carried out a 'charade' and performed CPR on the child.
Mr Donnellan said: "He lost his temper with her, she was just four-and-a-half years old.
"This wasn't just a single blow, this was a sustained period of hard beating of her."
Alexa-Marie had been living with Wheatley in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, since January 2014 when he won a long battle with Bedford Borough Council.
At the time it was unclear who her father was but in 2012 a paternity test proved Wheatley to be the father and he was granted supervised access to the little girl.
After a number of visits and meetings social services granted him full custody and the case was then passed to Hertfordshire County Council.
Wheatley denies murder but admits manslaughter by reasons of diminished responsibility.
The trial continues.
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