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Calgary man who killed girlfriend also found guilty in her toddler's death

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CALGARY — A judge has found a Calgary man who admitted to murdering his former girlfriend guilty of killing her daughter as well.

Robert Leeming, 36, had pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Jasmine Lovett in 2019, but not guilty in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.

But Court of Queen's Justice Keith Yamauchi said Leeming was not a believable witness and convicted him of the second-degree murder of the child.

"This court does not believe his explanation of how Aliyah died," the judge said in his decision. "It does not believe his evidence."

Yamauchi said there was no doubt that Leeming caused the injuries which led to the girl's death.

"Her injuries were not accidental. He meant to cause Aliyah's death or meant to cause bodily harm to Aliyah that was likely to cause her death," the judge said.

"Why would he not use his best efforts to find Aliyah help? Instead he went downstairs for a cigarette."

Leeming testified he was looking after Aliyah when she fell down some stairs, and that he found her limp and unresponsive when he checked on her later.

He said he snapped when Lovett accused him of doing something to her child, and struck her several times with a hammer before coming back with a rifle and shooting her in the head.

The bodies of the mother and child were found buried in a shallow grave west of Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press