A dad has pleaded for authorities to release the body of his baby daughter after it was held as part of a murder probe for nearly a year.

Distraught Dean Bird, 30, claims he is the biological father of tragic tot Eve Leatherland, who died last October at the age of 22 months, and wants to bury her near his home.

Her mother, Abigail Leatherland, 26, of Liskeard in Cornwall and her former partner Thomas Curd, 31, of Forest Road, Watford, have been charged with her murder.

They are also accused of causing or allowing the death or serious injury to the child.

But Dean says Eve's body is yet to be released by the authorities and he is desperate to bury her close to his family home in Nottinghamshire.

However, as he was not with Eve's mother when her birth was registered he is not named on the birth certificate and therefore has no legal parental rights.

He said he has offered to pay for a DNA test to prove that he is Eve's father, but no solicitor will take on his case due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

Dean added that now charges have been brought in the case, he believed the body could be released within the next month, as long as another post-mortem examination is not required.

Dean, 30, who owns a tattoo parlour in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, said: "As Eve's father I wish to bring her body, when it is released, to be buried near me.

"Time is of the essence as the body could be released soon.

"Her body has been held for nearly a year due to this investigation. My daughter deserves to be laid to rest by a father who loves her and in an area where it is accessible for me and my family, so we have a place to go to visit Eve and remember her.

"Eve's mother and I did restart our relationship after Eve was born. They lived with me and I was an active, loving father. There is no doubt Eve is my daughter, due to her looking so alike to myself and my other children."

A campaign has now been launched by Dean's family and friends which on Facebook which has attracted more than 20,000 members under the banner 'justice for Dean and Eve.' Dean said he was now getting desperate.

He added: "I have already lost my daughter once when her mother moved away from Nottinghamshire, where I live, to Liskeard in Cornwall.

"I am facing barriers and being passed from one person to the next. I've spoken to the coroner in Cornwall but we've got to wait and see what they say.

"We can't get a solicitor to take this on as it's too complicated because of this ongoing court case.

"During the post-mortem examination, Eve's DNA would have been taken for the investigation.

"So they should be able to take a sample from myself and prove that I am Eve's biological father.

"I shouldn't be denied the right to have my daughter back here with me, and to lay her to rest, when the time comes.

"But I want to fight this and bring my little girl home to be at peace."

Dean's partner Tara Wilson said they were struggling to make any progress.

She added: "We have been told there is nothing we can do to bring Eve home as due to the law everyone's hands are tied.

"As you can imagine Dean is suffering so much, this is his daughter and it's so frustrating he can't get anywhere with all of this.

"We are so grateful for all the support, it means so much to Dean so please don't give up but we are at a stand still and we just don't know where to turn next."

Leatherland, of Liskeard, Cornwall, and Curd, of Hertfordshire, appeared at Plymouth Crown Court last Friday where the case was adjourned until October 2 for a plea hearing.