Mum 'starved boy, four, to death and kept body for two years' court told (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Mum 'starved boy, four, to death and kept body for two years' court told
6:00am Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
A four-and-a-half year-old boy, whose mummified corpse – clad in baby clothes – was found in a cot in his mother’s bedroom, had starved to death, a jury was told yesterday.
Hamzah Majid Khan – whose stunted body was like that of a 12 to 18-month-old baby – had lain dead for nearly two years, Bradford Crown Court was told.
The court heard that the boy’s heavy-drinking mother, Amanda Hutton, had made no calls for medical assistance when he died and within hours had ordered a pizza. And after his death she continued to claim child benefit for him, it was claimed.
Prosecutor Paul Greaney QC told the jury: “Hamzah’s growth had been stunted; it had been stunted because he was malnourished over a lengthy period and that state of affairs resulted in his death. In short, he starved to death.”
Mr Greaney added: “How had a child starved to death in 21st century England? The prosecution case is quite simple: Amanda Hutton failed to provide her child with the nourishment that he needed to survive and, in so failing, she killed him. That failure was, we suggest, grossly negligent.”
The prosecutor went on: “To put it mildly, she departed very far indeed from the standard of care to be expected of a reasonable parent and she did so in circumstances in which her conduct gave rise to an obvious risk of death.”
He added: “She is not just an inadequate, vulnerable woman.”
Hutton, 43, now of Farcliffe Road, Girlington, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.
Mr Greaney said Hamzah was born on June 17, 2005, and the evidence established that he died on December 15, 2009, but his body was only discovered, by police, on September 21, 2011.
Mr Greaney said: “It follows that he had been mummifying in his mother’s bedroom for a period approaching two years. A feature of the clothing he was wearing when discovered is striking. Hamzah was wearing a baby grow for an infant aged six to nine months: moreover that baby grow fitted him comfortably.”
The court heard that Police Community Support Officer Jodie Worsley went to Hutton’s then home in Bradford in September 2011 after a neighbour reported that items had been thrown into his garden.
She could get no reply but the “conscientious and tenacious” officer returned four days later and noticed the front window sill was covered in dead flies. When she looked through the letterbox the smell from within made her gasp for breath.
On another visit she saw piled up rubbish through the back porch door. She continued to return to the property but got no reply.
Eventually the door was opened by Hutton after a colleague of the PCSO threatened to put it through. She was unsteady on her feet and denied anything was amiss. But the officers were concerned because flies were hovering around Hutton. Other officers attended and gained entry.
Mr Greaney said: “What they discovered disturbed even hardened officers. Within a cot in the bedroom of Amanda Hutton, a police officer made a dreadful discovery. Within that cot, beneath other items, he found the mummified corpse of a child. That child was Hamzah Khan.”
He said it was obvious to the officer that the child was dead.
“Hamzah was in a state of advanced mummification when discovered. That has hindered the experts in establishing the cause of Hamzah’s death. Nonetheless, careful work by a range of experts establishes a compelling case that malnutrition made a significant contribution to death.”
Mr Greaney said that Hamzah was unwell on December 15, 2009, and in the evening Hutton went to the supermarket, but was called back to the house by her son Tariq Majid Khan, then aged 20.
“Hamzah was either dead or died shortly after her return. Amanda Hutton made no call for assistance. On the contrary, within hours she was ordering a pizza. Moreover, she thereafter continued to claim child benefit in respect of Hamzah.”
Hutton told police she had initially sought to revive Hamzah, to no effect. She said she placed him in his cot, making it plain she had treated his body with dignity. His body was found with a teddy. She said that following his death she began to drink heavily, a litre of vodka a day.
Hutton, who had worked as a care assistant and had received training from St John Ambulance, told police that over time Hamzah had stopped eating and drinking and started to lose weight. She acknowledged she had sought no medical assistance for him, but said she wished to manage the problem herself.
Mr Greaney told the jury the defence would ask it to consider whether Hamzah’s malnutrition may have arisen through a naturally-occurring condition. But he added: “When you have regard to all of the evidence you will be satisfied that Amanda Hutton did fail to feed her son adequately.
“Even if you think that Hamzah’s malnutrition may have had a natural explanation, what did Amanda Hutton do about it? Did she seek medical assistance for Hamzah when he began to waste away? The evidence will demonstrate that she did not. On the contrary, she did nothing of any substance to help her child.”
Mr Greaney said Hutton had been an abuser of alcohol and cannabis for many years. He said there came a time when she gave in to her addictions so that her home and Hamzah became less important than her addictions.
The court heard concerns were raised about Hamzah, a year before his death, by his father Aftab Khan, who was separated from Hutton, and a woman witness who considered Hamzah was not fed properly and observed that he was often locked in his room.
The jury of eight men and four women was shown “disturbing” images of the house, which showed the living room was knee deep in rubbish and the carpet could not be seen. Other rooms were similarly covered in rubbish.
The trial continues.