A FATHER smothered his daughter to death nine years ago and then callously continued his life as if nothing had happened, a court was told.

Geoffrey Porter, aged 43, appeared at Manchester Crown Court charged with the murder of his 11-year-old daughter Phyllis. Her body was exhumed last year after she died in mysterious circumstance in November 1996.

David Steer, QC, prosecuting, said Porter is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Bolton vice girl Carly Bateman.

Mt Steer told the jury: "It is the Crown's case that the defendant, by murdering Carly Bateman in 2001, demonstrated his propensity to kill either a very young girl, or a young woman with a youthful appearance."

Mr Steer said that on the night of Phyllis's death, Porter entered her bedroom at their home in Kitt Green Road, Marsh Green, Wigan, before going to work and suffocated her with a pillow.

"What actually took place and prompted his actions there we may never know," said Mr Porter. "But before he left, we allege that he suffocated her and then carried on his business as if nothing at all had happened."

Mr Steet told the jury about the initial post mortem examination of Phyllis and the inquest in 1998 which recorded an open verdict.

At that time, the cause of death was unexplained, Mr Steer said. But in November 2001, almost five years after her death, the murder of Carly Bateman, a young prostitute, caused the original pathologist to look at the case again.

Mr Steer said Carly's body was found in an alleyway behind Crawford Avenue, Bolton, and although she was 17 she had a very youthful appearance.

Carly's death was caused by strangulation. The post mortem examination suggested that a relatively soft ligature or some kind of choke hold had been used by her killer.

The method left few observable injuries.

Mr Steer said: "This man (defendant) was convicted of Carly's murder by a jury at this Crown Court on December 4, 2002, and that prompted further inquires into the incidents surrounding the death of his daughter, which had hitherto gone unexplained."

The pathologist had not been informed that Phyllis had been found lying face down on the pillow. In the light of that information, he looked at his findings afresh.

He used methods to calculate the time of her death, either between 3am and 6am or between 4am and 10am.

As Porter was a warehouse assistant at GUS, he would had left for work at about 3.30am, giving him the opportunity to carry out the murder at these times, said Mr Steer.

After looking at the evidence again and, in light of the new information, the pathologist believes the death would be extremely unlikely to have been caused by a natural disease, saying "such a death would be a rare phenomena".

The death was much more likely to have been due to suffocation face down on the pillow, which the prosecution believe would have been consistent with Phyllis's death.

This type of suffocation would not leave any observable signs or markings on the victim, which would explain the pathologist's initial findings.

Porter denies murder.