A baby who starved to death after being abandoned by her mother for six days while she partied did not cry because she knew there was no point, a court heard today.
Verphy Kudi left her daughter alone while she travelled up to 150 miles away to celebrate her birthday. Today she burst into tears as she was jailed for nine years at Sussex crown court.
The court heard that Asiah, who was 20 months old, had not cried despite being in distress because she knew there was unlikely to be a response, having been left alone 11 times before.
The child became dehydrated, developed flu and starved in December 2019 while her mother toured the country for six days to mark her 18th birthday.
Kudi partied in London, Coventry and Solihull, in the West Midlands, more than 150 miles away. The 19-year-old, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April, burst into tears as she was taken down to the cells after being sentenced at Sussex crown court.
Judge Christine Laing QC said it was a “particularly distressing” aspect of the case that experts considered it unlikely Asiah would have cried for any length of time because she had already learnt there was unlikely to be a response. The judge added: “And when her suffering became too great, she would not have had the strength to cry.”
Kudi had left her baby alone on 11 prior occasions at the sheltered accommodation where they lived in Brighton. It included six significant occasions in October and November 2019 in which the child was variously left alone for periods of several hours, the best part of a day, and, in late November, for two days, five hours and 51 minutes when Kudi left her to go to a birthday party.
Sally Howes QC, outlining the case for the prosecution, told the sentencing hearing that the baby had learnt that crying for help was useless. The case was reviewed by the consultant paediatrician Dr Nicola Cleghorn, who was asked why neighbours did not hear Asiah crying or making noise.
Howes said: “She explains that it is possible for children who have experience of delayed response from caregivers to stop calling out.”
Laing told Kudi she had prioritised her desire to party with friends over the needs of her child, who suffered “unimaginable physical suffering”. She described Kudi, who constructed a web of lies to pretend she had been caring for her child, as deceitful and manipulative.
Kudi called 999 at 6pm on December 11 and told paramedics Asiah had been unwell all day and that she had given her milk and a banana at midday. She stuck to the lies when she spoke to doctors and paramedics. However, CCTV at the building showed she had left on December 5 and did not return until the afternoon of December 11. She had been gone for two hours less than six days, and Laing said she spent three hours in the flat before calling emergency services.
The judge said: “It’s quite clear to me the trigger event for you to abandon your child for almost six days was not stress but a desire to celebrate your birthday.
“You chose to prioritise your desires over the needs of your child. She was a helpless child who relied completely on you for her needs. You wanted the life of an 18-year-old over the life of a young mum with a child. You knew full well you should not be doing what you did.
“It is almost unbearable to contemplate her suffering in the final days of her life, suffering she endured so you could celebrate with your friends. She was a baby. It was your duty as a mother to protect her, not to abandon her. You caused her unimaginable physical suffering.”
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