Man (35) pleads guilty to murdering ‘defenceless’ toddler in Co Tyrone

Darryn John Armstrong had previously claimed Ali Jayden Doyle died from head injuries caused by her infant brother throwing a toy

A man who admitted murdering a “defenceless” two-year-old girl in Co Tyrone has been sentenced to life in prison.

Ali Jayden Doyle died from head injuries sustained in a house in the Park Avenue area of Dungannon on August 6th, 2021.

Darryn John Armstrong (35) – who was in an on-off relationship at the time with Ali Jayden’s mother Jade Dempsey – initially claimed the toddler’s one-year old brother had caused the fatal wound by throwing a toy at her.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to murder at Belfast Crown Court, but his barrister Brian McCartney KC on Tuesday told Mr Justice O’Hara that he was applying to have the defendant re-arraigned. Armstrong, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, replied “guilty” after being asked how he pleaded to the murder charge.


“Your trial was scheduled to start in two weeks time,” the judge said. “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 thrown 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.

“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.”

The judge said he was imposing a life sentence and would later hear submissions about the minimum period Armstrong must serve before Parole Commissioners 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 defence barrister said there have been “difficulties” arranging consultations in Maghaberry due to Armstrong’s “safety status” within the prison. He said Armstrong had earlier this month been “the victim of a vicious beating”.

Ms Dempsey (27) has been charged with causing the death of a child by an unlawful act on August 6th, 2021 and wilfully neglecting and exposing Ali Jayden Doyle in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health. She had denied both charges.

In light of the latest developments, her counsel asked that Ms Dempsey’s case be re-listed this Friday. Mr Justice O’Hara agreed.