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Mother jailed for starving Hamzah
An alcoholic mother of eight who starved her four-year-old son to death and left his body in a cot for nearly two years has been jailed for 15 years.
Amanda Hutton, 43, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
Hamzah's body was found in squalor at Hutton's home in Bradford in September 2011.
Hutton admitted neglecting five of her other children aged between five and 13, who were living in the terrible conditions.
Her eldest son Tariq Khan, 24, was given a two-year suspended sentence for preventing the burial of his younger brother.
Hutton showed no emotion as she was led from the dock.
Judge Roger Thomas QC told her: "The details of your wicked conduct have been displayed in such awful detail over the past three weeks in the trial that concluded yesterday."
He said the offences "demonstrate a most fundamental and serious breach of any duty that an individual in decent society can owe to others - namely the duty that a parent owes to her or his young children to take proper care of them".
The judge said the children were found in a situation that was "breathtakingly awful".
Judge Thomas said all the offences he was sentencing Hutton for are "all arising from your terrible failures to fulfil the most basic responsibilities that you, as a mother, should have fulfilled".
He said the manslaughter of Hamzah involved "failing to provide him with anything like adequate nourishment over a long period of time - in short you starved him to death".
In terms of the five child cruelty charges she admitted, the judge said that related to a period of nearly three years "when, on an ever declining scale, you failed your young children, causing them to live in quite appalling conditions of squalor which understandably shocked even the most seasoned police officers who attended your home in September 2011".
He told Hutton she "must be regarded as a real danger to any child with whom you may live, or in any way have care of in the future".
The judge told the court: "I make it clear that this sentencing exercise is not an exercise in seeking to identify or explain how various agencies failed to identify and act upon the very long term and severe neglect that you visited upon your child and which went as far as you literally starving Hamzah to death.
"Undoubtedly others will be enquiring into such matters and that is something beyond the reach of this court.
"However, your deviousness and entirely purposeful conduct in keeping various agencies away from you and your children so that what you were doing was not discovered must be a feature of this case that I should take into account in sentencing you today.
Judge Thomas sentenced Hutton to 12 years in prison for manslaughter. He gave her a three-year sentence for child cruelty which he said was to be served consecutive to the 12 years. And the judge said she should serve two-and-a-half years for preventing the lawful burial of Hamzah but said this was to be served concurrently.
A charge of fraud relating to Hutton claiming child benefit for Hamzah after his death will lie on the file.
Judge Thomas said the duty of care a parent owes to a child "involves various obligations from providing not just simple human love and affection but to all the practical matters than young children need from their parents.
"This indictment demonstrates your longstanding and wretched breaches of these most simple and fundamental requirements.
"The squalor in which your surviving children were found in September 2011 was breathtakingly awful."
He recalled how an experienced pediatrician told the jury how her visit to Hutton's house after Hamzah's body was discovered was "the most extreme example of neglect" she had encountered in her career.
The judge said it was clear Hutton had an alcohol problem and that "you placed your own selfish addiction to drink well before your responsibilities to your many children."
The judge told Hutton that "for whatever irrational reason, you took against Hamzah from an early age - perhaps, in fact, from the very day of his birth".
He said: "From all the evidence that I have heard, I have no doubt that the reason for you purposefully keeping Hamzah away from everybody was because you were failing to nourish him and provide him with even the most basic food.
"It is entirely clear from the medical evidence that your failure to feed Hamzah was a longstanding feature of his short and unhappy life and lasted for years."
Judge Thomas said: " The most telling and awful fact in this case that speaks volumes about how you starved Hamzah is that when his mummified remains were found, he was comfortably clothed in a baby-gro which was designed for a six to nine-month-old child.
"Moreover, he was found in a cot wearing, at the age of four-and-a-half years, a nappy."
He said: " So it is then that your case, Amanda Hutton, has to be regarded as as bad a case of unlawful killing of a child by a parent as it is possible to imagine.
"The prosecution posed the question at the outset of the case 'How is it possible in 21st century Britain for a four-and-a-half-year-old child to be starved to death?'.
"Dr Ward, in her evidence, said that there were very few cases indeed in the medical literature of such a thing happening.
"Although it beggars belief that such a thing can happen, it has, of course, happened here. It has done so through your purposeful, persistent and gross conduct in failing in that most basic and fundamental requirement that is upon every parent, to feed her child adequately."
The jury heard how Hamzah was only discovered after a rookie police community support officer's tenacious pursuit of a minor anti-social behaviour complaint because she knew something was wrong.
Jodie Dunsmore, who is now a police officer, was in court and was commended by the judge who said: "If she continues in future years to fulfill her duties with this sort of excellence, then the public will be well served."
Due to Pc Dunsmore's persistence police found Hamzah's remains amid scenes of utter squalor which the judge described as "a terrible Pandora's box".
They also found five of his siblings, aged between five and 13, living among the knee-deep pizza boxes, used nappies, vodka bottles and cat faeces.
Seasoned officers described being overcome by emotion as they witnessed one child in the house rummaging among rotting rubbish in a bedroom for items before they took the youngster away.
Other officers talked of rotten food and an almost unbearable smell in the four-bed terraced house.
Neighbours have spoken of their amazement when children they had never seen before emerged from the property on the day the police arrived.
A serious case review into Hamzah's death has been conducted by the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) which will be published later this year.
It will examine all the many contacts Hutton's family had with agencies including the police, social services, schools and health organisations.
New details of the horrors that happened at Hutton's house emerged today as the prosecution outlined the child cruelty allegations against Hutton and the case against her son.
Tariq Khan told police that his mother told him not to tell anyone about the death of Hamzah or she would kill her other children, the judge heard.
He made the claim during a police interview that was read out in court.
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said that Tariq, now 24, told police that "if he said anything, she would kill the rest of the children".
The court heard how Tariq told probation officers how his mother held a knife to the throat of one of the children two days after Hamzah's death.
He also said his mother threatened to burn down the house.
Judge Thomas was also told that one of Hutton's neighbours alerted social services to her concerns about the family six months before Hamzah's body was found.
Mr Greaney said the neighbour contacted social services in March 2011 as she was concerned about things she had observed.
The woman, who cannot be named, set out her reasons for doing this in a text she sent to a friend.
The message said: "I rang social services today about next door because I kept hearing the children crying for long periods and no-one goes to them.
"And I heard a Asian lad being verbally abusive towards them a few times now.
"And.....smelt vodka on the mum's breath in the early afternoon the other day.
"The kids never, ever play out.
"I've never seen one of them the whole time they've been there.
"And the blinds are closed in every room 24/7
"I just rang and I told them all that and said 'I'm not making accusations but I have concerns for the children's welfare'.
"Better to be safe than sorry."
Mr Greaney said: "The history of what then occurred is complex. Social services, education services and the police were all involved to a greater or lesser extent.
"What is obvious is that their activities did not result in Hamzah's body being discovered or in the other children being rescued.
"All of that demands attention and explanation, and we understand that a Serious Case Review has been conducted and has concluded.
"What we must say, with a degree of regret, is that these criminal proceedings are not the forum for ventilating, still less resolving issues relating to the conduct of the bodies and agencies who had contact with or knowledge of problems with the Hutton family over the relevant period, both before and after Hamzah's death.
"Those are issues for other processes and in any event what is crucial to state is that, whatever was or was not done, should not detract from the shocking and disgraceful conduct of Amanda Hutton in relation to all six of her youngest children, which, of course included starving one of them to death.
"She killed Hamzah, no one else."
The court heard how salesman Tariq Khan is a "mummy's boy" who acted out of "misplaced loyalty" to Hutton.
And the judge questioned the role of Aftab Khan - the father of all of Hutton's eight children.
The jury heard how Aftab Khan subjected Hutton to domestic violence over many years and in 2008, after he was arrested for an assault on her, told police that Hamzah was undernourished and claimed he was going to inform social services.
But there is no record that call was ever made.
Judge Thomas said: "Your partner and father of your children knew about your drinking and your lack of care of the children.
"He in fact seems to have done little in all reality to address your conduct so as to improve the welfare of his children."