Coroner urges police to probe baby death as laughing mother in witness box outburst

Coroner urges police to probe baby death as laughing mother in witness box outburst

Coroner urges police to probe baby death as laughing mother in witness box outburst

First published in News
Last updated

A CORONER has asked police to look again at whether a mother whose baby girl was found suffocated in her cot three years ago should face charges of criminal neglect.

Social services were already involved with four-month-old Hawwa Khan's family, who lived in Estcourt Road, Lidget Green, and were about to put care proceedings in place when she died.

Although an earlier police investigation found no evidence of criminality, assistant coroner Dr Dominic Bell yesterday asked Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, who led the investigation, for "some consideration to criminal neglect to be reviewed" regarding the baby's mother, Mariyah Fatima.

Mrs Fatima attended the inquest to give evidence, but had to be warned to "get control" after an outburst in the witness box.

When assistant coroner Dr Bell confined her to the courtroom without her mobile phone so a friend could be brought to the inquest as a witness, Mrs Fatima laughed loudly, rolling her head back and holding her hands up to police as if to be handcuffed saying: "Take me now."

Hawwa's father Fida Khan did not attend yesterday's inquest. When a coroner's officer asked him why he would not be attending, he had replied that it was just "a run of the mill death," the court heard.

After hearing evidence about how Hawwa had been found in her cot by her mother lying pale with an older sibling kneeling next to her, Dr Bell ruled out natural causes and gave an open verdict.

He said there were still questions how the tot, who died on March 24, 2011 eight days after the incident, was asphyxiated.

He said he could not rule it was an unlawful killing because he could not be sure beyond all reasonable doubt how it happened.

Dr Bell said: "There are questions whether the older sibling was directly or solely responsible or whether the mother was directly responsible or was indirectly or culpably responsible."

MrsFatima, who had been due at Bradford Magistrates' Court on a neglect matter the day it happened, had told the inquest she had left the older sibling watching television on full blast when she went into the kitchen to start a call to her friend Fozia Begum, which lasted 38 minutes.

That friend was called to give new evidence yesterday after recently revealing she had asked Hawwa's mother during their phonecall to check on the children because the noisy background had gone quiet - a request Mrs Fatima said she did not remember.

Dr Bell wanted to know why Mrs Begum was so concerned by the silence. Under questioning, Mrs Begum said Hawwa's father had told her when she was babysitting never to leave them alone and to keep the "hyper" older sibling busy with toys.

Multiple references to the older sibling's "wild" behaviour were made during the inquest, including Hawwa's father having to lock the baby in her room when she was sleeping for her own protection.

Dr Bell had no criticism of social services after reassurance that a review had been robustly carried out.

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