February 2013

A child murderer has been killed in Worcestershire’s Long Lartin Prison, the Ministry of Justice says.


Two prisoners are being held in police custody after the death of Subhan Anwar, who was jailed in 2009 for torturing and killing a two-year-old girl.

February 2009

Tortured toddler’s 107 injuries: Mother and lover jailed over tragic girl’s month of ‘unbelievable’ agony

A mother and her lover have been jailed for killing a toddler who suffered 107 injuries during a month of ‘unbelievable’ cruelty.

Two-year-old Sanam Navsarka had all her limbs broken, had been locked in a cupboard and was put in a tumble dryer.

Her mother Zahbeena Navsarka, 21, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for nine years.

Navsarka’s married lover Subhan Anwar, also 21, was jailed for life for murder and will serve a minimum of 23 years.

In the witness box at Bradford Crown Court the pair had blamed each other for Sanam’s death.

Judge Peter Thornton QC summed up the toddler’s ordeal by telling the court:

‘Humanity has let her down.’

He said it was a ‘truly terrible case’, adding: ‘It is almost unbelievable the pain and anguish she must have suffered, not just once or twice, but repeatedly and persistently over weeks at your cruel and selfish hands.’

Social workers from Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire met the couple and the girl three times during the period she was being systematically beaten to death, but had no idea what Sanam was enduring.

As well as putting her in the tumble dryer, Anwar dumped her in the bin as her mother looked on.

The court heard that tiny handprints and bloodstains were found inside cupboards at their home in Huddersfield and at a former property in Batley.

Sanam was apparently afraid of the dark.

Mr Thornton told Navsarka: ‘You failed to protect her from serious harm, knowing what was being done to her. That is unbelievable.

‘It is also incredibly cruel. This was a gross abuse of trust by you as a mother.’

The murder raises further questions about the actions of Kirklees social workers  –  who were criticised over their care of kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews.

Unlike Shannon, Sanam had never been on the child protection register.

The toddler’s fate was sealed from the moment Anwar spotted her pretty single mother while working in his uncle’s mobile phone shop.

He chatted her up and, later that day, the couple had sex in the back of the shop while Sanam sat in a pushchair nearby. Within three months the little girl was dead.

A post-mortem examination on May 8 last year revealed her arms and legs were broken and there were 107 injuries across her body, including 36 bruises to her head and neck, 26 to her arms and ten to her abdomen.

Two ‘tramline’ bruises on her thigh showed where she had been battered with metal poles. And the toddler suffered further agony when aftershave was splashed over her nappy rash and open sores.

Not once did her mother take her to a doctor for treatment.

Eventually their failure to help Sanam killed her. Fat deposits from her broken bones entered the bloodstream and caused her death.

The couple told the 999 operator and paramedics that she was left alone in the bath for ten minutes by Anwar, who returned to find the lifeless body

Sanam was indeed naked and had wet hair, but her skin was dry and the post-mortem examination showed she had not drowned.

Neighbour and friend Shereen Yacoobali said Sanam was a ‘chirpy and happy’ baby and her mother was ‘like a mouse’ and ‘really quiet’.

Navsarka had spent time in care while growing up and was 18 when she became pregnant.

She was living alone and on benefits in a council flat in Batley when Sanam was born on Christmas Eve 2005. The child’s father was ‘absent’.

Everything changed when Anwar, a former pupil at Batley Grammar School, moved in.

Miss Yacoobali said she could ‘see and feel the fear in that little child when he threatened to lock her in the cupboard’.

In August 2007 social workers first became concerned about Sanam’s care because they were told she was being taken to the home of her grandmother, who is schizophrenic.

Navsarka was told it was ‘not suitable’ for the baby. More crucially there were at least three contacts with Anwar and Navsarka when they were with the toddler during the month she was being beaten to death.

Sally Scott, deputy manager of the Looked After Children Team, met them on 18 April, three weeks before Sanam’s death.

The meeting was arranged to discuss whether an older child  –  known as Child A  –  who was in care could live with them.

After the 15-minute interview Miss Scott decided against allowing Child A to go there.

Sanam sat on her mother’s knee throughout and Miss Scott said she saw no bruises on the child.

The couple also twice took Sanam to Kirklees Council offices in the days before her death.

Nothing untoward was noticed  –  even though the trial was told that Sanam was suffering so badly from her injuries she couldn’t walk in her final days.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said a serious case review was ongoing.

He said the mother had not been ‘the subject of any child protection or care support in her earlier years’ and her partner ‘not previously known’ to agencies.

Detective Inspector Trevor Gasson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: ‘I think any human being, anybody with an ounce of human nature to them, cannot understand or comprehend how anybody can inflict these injuries on anybody, but particularly a two-year-old child.’