Northern Ireland

Man jailed for life for murder of ‘defenceless’ toddler Ali Jayden Doyle

Darryn John Armstrong initially blamed toddler’s one-year old brother for causing the fatal injury

Alan Lewis-      10-8-2021
Darren Armstrong who appeared at Omagh Magistrates Court via videolink charged with the murder of two year old Ali Jayden Doyle, the Dungannon child, who was taken to hospital on Friday where she later died after sustaining injuries at a house in Park Avenue in the town.
( Social Media Sourced Picture )
Darryn Armstrong. (Alan Lewis-Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

A MAN who admitted murdering a “defenceless” two-year old girl in Dungannon has been handed a life sentence.

Ali Jayden Doyle died from head injuries she sustained in a house in the Park Avenue area of the Co Tyrone town in August 2021.

Darryn John Armstrong (35) initially blamed the toddler’s one-year old brother for causing the fatal injury by throwing a toy at her - but on Tuesday he admitted his guilt and was told to expect a long prison sentence.

Armstrong - who at the time of the child’s death was in an on-off relationship with her mother Jade Dempsey - appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court.

At a previous court appearance Armstrong, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the murder charge.

Alan Lewis -     21-5-2024
Murdered baby Ali Jayden Doyle’s aunt Cathleen outside Belfast Crown Court after seeing the baby girl’s killer plead guilty today, (Tuesday 21st).  
Court Copy by Ashleigh McDonald via AM News
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Murdered baby Ali Jayden Doyle in pictures held by her aunt Cathleen outside Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday. PICTURE: ALAN LEWIS (Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

He was back in court on Tuesday where his barrister Brian McCartney KC told Mr Justice O’Hara “there is an application to have the defendant re-arraigned.”

After confirming his identity and with his head bowed throughout, Armstrong was then charged with murdering Ali Jayden Doyle on August 6, 2021.

As relatives of the child sat in the public gallery, Armstrong was asked how he pleaded to the murder charge and he replied “guilty.”

The self-confessed child killer was then addressed by Mr Justice O’Hara who said: “Mr Armstrong, Ali Jayden Doyle was murdered on the 6th of August 2021.

Ali Jayden Doyle ,A 35-year old man has admitted murdering a "defenceless" two-year-old girl in Dungannon in August 2021.
Ali Jayden Doyle died from head injuries she sustained in a house in the Park Avenue area of the County Tyrone town.
Darryn John Armstrong, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, initially pleaded not guilty to the murder charge at a previous court appearance.
Ali Jayden Doyle.

“Your trial was scheduled to start in two weeks time. Initially you blamed her one-year old brother for throwing a toy which hit her and caused her to suffer fatal and terrible injuries to her head.

“More recently you admitted that you yourself had throw her so that she hit her head on the fireplace and claimed that when you did so you had lost your temper under the influence of drugs - yet you still denied murder.

Jade Dempsey has been charged in connection with the death of two year-old Ali Jayden Doyle
Ali Jayden's mother Jade Dempsey is also facing charges

“You were not supposed to have any contact at all with Ali or her brother because social services knew you were such a risk to them both.

“Social Services were absolutely right. “For murder, the mandatory sentence in this jurisdiction is life imprisonment and I impose a life sentence on you.”

Armstrong will receive his tariff following submissions from both crown and defence lawyers before parole commissioners will decide when he can be released.

“You can expect a long minimum sentence for what you did to a defenceless two year old who should never have been left in your care,” the judge added.

Mr McCartney confirmed he will be seeking reports ahead of sentencing and told the judge “the court might be assisted by a psychiatric report”.

The defence barrister said there have been “difficulties” arranging consultations in Maghaberry due to Armstrong’s “safety status” within the prison - and revealed that earlier this month he was “the victim of a vicious beating in which he sustained facial injuries.”

Mr Justice O’Hara was then addressed by Gavan Duffy KC, the barrister representing Jade Dempsey.

The 27-year old, whose address is the subject of a reporting restriction, has been charged with two offences arising from her daughter’s death.

At a previous court hearing, Dempsey was charged with, and denied, causing the death of a child by an unlawful act on August 6, 2021 and willfully neglecting and exposing Ali Jayden in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

Her barrister said that in light of Tuesday’s developments, he asked that Dempsey’s case be re-listed this Friday.

Mr Justice O’Hara agreed to this request and told Armstrong’s legal team that he hoped a date for the plea hearing in his case could be set on Friday.

Armstrong was then led from the dock and returned back into custody by prison staff.