Jurors told to 'harden their hearts' in trial over four-year-old's death (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Jurors told to 'harden their hearts' in trial over four-year-old's death
Jurors in the case of a Bradford mother accused of starving her child to death and leaving him mummifying in his cot were told to “harden their hearts” and consider the evidence “calmly and coolly” by the trial judge before they retired today to consider their verdict.
Judge Roger Thomas QC, the Recorder of Bradford, yesterday told the jury that police found “a terrible Pandora’s Box” inside Amanda Hutton’s house when they went inside in September 2011 and found the remains of her four-year-old son Hamzah Khan, who had died almost two years before.
Hutton, 43, who denies the manslaughter of her son by gross neglect, is on trial at Bradford Crown Court.
Beginning his summing up of the case, Judge Thomas reminded the court that even experienced officers were shocked by what they discovered inside Hutton’s then home in Bradford.
He said the “most terrible” thing they found was Hamzah’s body.
Addressing the jury, the judge continued: “You wouldn’t be human if you haven’t had some reaction emotionally to the facts of this pretty dreadful case.”
He said understandable human reactions might be “just being appalled” by the fact a body was left in this way, being “shocked” by the state of the house, or even having some sympathy with Hutton as she finds herself in this situation.
“But you’ve got to harden your heart here and look at it calmly and coolly,” the judge said.
Earlier, summing up the prosecution case, barrister Paul Greaney QC, said Hamzah’s body lay in a travel cot in his mother’s bedroom for almost two years.
“It had become mummified, infested with insects and in part it became mouldy,” he said.
Richard Dove, the experienced police officer who found Hamzah’s body, reported that his hand and arm shook uncontrollably when he made the shocking discovery, Mr Greaney told the court.
Another police officer was “at the edge of her emotions” when she saw the squalor in the Bradford house.
“Few juries in this country will have been confronted with evidence as distressing as you have over the last ten days or so,” Mr Greaney said.
He went on: “How did a four-and-a-half-year-old boy come to starve to death in one of our cities in the 2lst century?”
Mr Greaney said Hutton’s “gross failures” killed Hamzah.
He alleged she “hit the bottle in her bedroom” years before Hamzah was born. A woman staying at her home ten months before Hamzah died described her as “a nasty drunk”.
“Drink was more important to her than her child. It is a terrible thing to say about a mother, but it is the truth,” Mr Greaney said.
One witness said Hutton would verbally abuse Hamzah. It was alleged he was once trapped under a drawer with things piled on top of him, and that Hutton also locked him in a bedroom with the lights out as a punishment.
Mr Greaney maintained Hutton, now of Farcliffe Road, Girlington, Bradford, had failed him terribly.
It was “blindingly obvious” that malnourishment killed Hamzah.
“It is criminal that he never saw a doctor after he left hospital. The crime is Amanda Hutton’s and we invite you to return a guilty verdict accordingly,” Mr Greaney concluded.
In his closing address, defence barrister Stephen Meadowcroft QC said it was a terrible case to listen to but the jury’s decision must be based purely on the evidence.
Eight months before he died, a police welfare officer visited Hutton’s home and found it clean and tidy.
Two months before Hamzah died, Hutton told a crisis intervention worker with the Staying Put domestic violence charity that she was positive and “in a good place”.
The evidence showed that Hutton’s home was not piled with rubbish and she was not drinking to excess until after Hamzah’s death, said Mr Meadowcroft.
The pathologist who gave evidence in the trial also said it was not possible to say what the cause of death was, he pointed out.
The trial continues.