My boyfriend murdered my baby: Mother of toddler beaten to death by her boyfriend while she holidayed in New York speaks for first time on This Morning

  • Ben Raftery, 21, left 23 month-old Roxie Archer with fatal brain injuries
  • He was entrusted with her care after saying he wanted them to 'bond'
  • Tests showed Roxie was punched, slapped and shaken before she died
  • Her mother Sophie Archer had flown to US to celebrate her 21st birthday
  • Sophie appeared on This Morning today

Sophie Archer, the mother of a toddler killed by her 21-year-old boyfriend while she celebrated her birthday in New York was interviewed on This Morning today

Sophie Archer, the mother of a toddler killed by her 21-year-old boyfriend while she celebrated her birthday in New York was interviewed on This Morning today

Sophie Archer thought she was leaving her 23-month-old daughter Roxie in safe hands when she left for a three day trip to New York in March last year.

But, only 24 hours into the holiday, Sophie received a call from her boyfriend Ben Raftery explaining that her daughter was on her way to hospital after accidentally falling and banging her head.

In fact, within hours of Sophie's departure, Raftery had beaten toddler Roxie so badly that she died from devastating brain injuries the next day.

An investigation revealed she was either pushed or fell down the stairs and tests showed she was punched, slapped and subjected to ‘vigorous shaking’ before she died.

Raftery was jailed for life in May this year and today Sophie, who is now expecting a baby with a new partner, spoke for the first time about her ordeal.

She explained to This Morning hosts Ruth Langsford and Ealmon Holmes: 'It was the worst feeling in the world, we got the first flight home. When I arrived at the hospital she was on a life support machine, she was wearing a neck brace, bruised and full of tubes. She looked awful.

'Not long after the doctor pulled me to one side and said they had tried everything and there was no chance of survival.'

Raftery was arrested several days after Roxie's death, but Sophie admitted that she was surprised because she still believed that her daughter had hurt herself by tumbling in McDonald's. She said: 'I didn't think he would have done anything to her.' 

Roxie Archer (right) died from devastating brain injuries

Roxie Archer (right) died from devastating brain injuries

Sophie and Raftery had been together for four months before she left him in charge of her daughter to take that fateful trip.

At the start of their relationship she admits she was very happy and grateful to have him around: 'He came across as a very charming man, everything I was looking for. I wanted somebody in my life because I was a single mum. I was grateful to have him around as he was so nice and loving.'

Originally Roxie was due to stay with her grandmother while Sophie visited New York to celebrate her 21st birthday with her father, but Raftery persuaded her to leave the child with him at their shared home in Ashton-under-Lyne because he wanted to ‘bond’ with her.

Defenceless: Raftery had said he wanted to 'bond' with Roxie

Defenceless: Raftery had said he wanted to 'bond' with Roxie

Sophie, now 22, told the jury who convicted Raftery: 'I trusted him and didn’t think he would cause any harm to her. I thought they would have bonded, they would have got on, not that anything like this would have happened.'

But in the early hours of March 10, Raftery rang 999 and told the operator: 'My baby’s fell down the stairs. I can’t really hear breathing.'

Inquiries revealed in the hours before Roxie was taken to hospital that Raftery posted a photo of Roxie on Facebook, with a caption saying she had hit her head on a door at McDonalds. But the day after she died, he edited the caption on the picture to read, ‘Aah my little princess when she banged her head on the floor’.

On This Morning Sophie admitted that Raftery had displayed some controlling and violent behaviour towards her and Roxie before the trip, but claimed that she was so brainwashed into thinking that she needed him that she ignored it.

She said: 'There were a few occasions when he held her upside down by her legs and we would argue about it but he threatened to leave. (Roxie) grew less comfortable around him but I thought it was down to jealousy.

'At the start he was a really nice lad but towards the end he was horrible, very controlling, he stopped me me seeing my friends and family. I didn't see the signs though, I was brainwashed. I thought I needed him.'

Raftery has never admitted guilt, maintaining that the child’s injuries were caused by an accidental fall down the stairs at the house he shared with Roxie and her mother in Ashton-under-Lyne.

He said: 'Roxie called me daddy the first day I met her - I had a bond with Roxie, we were so close - I thought Sophie was the one.'

Jailed: Ben Raftery has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years

Jailed: Ben Raftery has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years

But Det Supt Denise Worth from Greater Manchester Police said in May: 'Roxie was a two-year-old little girl who should have felt safe in her own home in the care of Raftery. He abused his position of trust and subjected an innocent toddler to an attack which left her with an unsurvivable head injury.

'We will never know exactly what happened on that day, as Raftery has always maintained that it was an accident. Roxie’s family are devastated by Raftery’s actions and will never be able to see [her] grow up into a young woman, see her get married and have children of her own.

'He has now been jailed, and will have to live the rest of his life with the knowledge that he is responsible for killing Roxie.'

Sophie is devastated that he has never shown any remorse and is desperate to know why he killed her little girl.

She said: 'He denied everything. He didn't show any remorse. I don't know what happened that night and it tears me apart day and night that I don't know what happened to my daughter.'

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