October 2013

Amanda Hutton jailed for Hamzah Khan killing

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A mother who allowed her four-year-old son to starve to death and left his decomposing body in a cot for nearly two years has been jailed for 15 years.

Alcoholic mother-of-eight Amanda Hutton was convicted of the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan, who died in December 2009 due to severe malnutrition.

His mummified remains were found in squalid conditions at their Bradford family home 21 months later.

The judge said Hutton posed a “real danger” to children.

Roger Thomas, the Recorder of Bradford, said she had shown a “terrible failure to fulfil the most basic responsibility; in short you starved Hamzah to death”.

On keeping Hamzah’s death a secret, the judge said Hutton was “worried that people would find out you killed him”.

He told her: “Your deviousness was to keep various agencies away from you and your children.

“Your wicked conduct has been displayed in such awful detail.”

Hutton had previously admitted the neglect of Hamzah’s five siblings, who also lived at the house and were aged between five and 13 in 2011, and preventing the burial of Hamzah’s body.

The boy’s body was found after an inexperienced police community support officer became concerned about children at the house while she was investigating reports of soiled nappies being thrown into a neighbour’s garden.

Knife threat

Officers who later found Hamzah were also faced with an overwhelming smell coming from ankle-deep rubbish in the house, including vodka bottles and rotting food.

Hutton’s eldest son, Tariq Khan, 24, also admitted preventing Hamzah’s burial and received a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years.

The judge heard earlier that Hutton had told Khan not to tell anyone about Hamzah’s death or she would kill his siblings.

Khan told probation officers how his mother held a knife to the throat of one of the children two days after Hamzah’s death, the court heard.

He also said his mother threatened to burn down the house.

The judge was also told that one of Hutton’s neighbours alerted social services to her concerns about the family in March 2011, but her actions did not result in Hamzah’s body being found.

Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said the woman had observed children crying and not being comforted, threatening voices towards the children, blinds never being open and children not playing outside.

Mr Greaney told the judge the history of what happened after those concerns were raised was “complex”, but social services, education services and the police “were all involved to a greater or lesser extent”.

He said a serious case review into Hamzah’s death and the involvement of the relevant agencies with the family was under way.

The prosecutor said whatever was or was not done by those agencies “should not detract from the shocking and disgraceful conduct of Amanda Hutton involving six of her children”.

“She killed Hamzah, no-one else,” he said.

Hutton showed no emotion as she was led from the dock.

Friend of the family Maria Hodgson, who was at Bradford Crown Court for the sentencing, said what had happened was “so sad”.

“It’s so bad that this has happened to her and the whole family, really.

“I saw a lot of love from her to her children. Something must have happened to her.”

October 2013

‘Mummified’ Boy: Mother Amanda Hutton Guilty

A mother who starved her four-year-old son to death and left his body in her bedroom until it became mummified has been found guilty of his manslaughter.

Amanda Hutton, a 43-year-old mother, was responsible for the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan through gross neglect, a jury at Bradford crown court found.

After the verdict police described her as an “obstructive” woman who refused offers of help and went to great lengths to conceal Hamzah’s death in December 2009.

Hutton showed no emotion as the foreman announced the jury’s verdict.

It can now be reported that Hutton had eight children who were aged between five and 22 when Hamzah’s body was found in her bedroom almost two years after he died.

His remains were mummified, mouldy and swarming with insects when police discovered them in September 2011. Though aged four and a half at the time of his death, Hamzah was so malnourished that he was wearing a babygrow meant for a baby no older than nine months.

Five children aged between five and 11 were found by police when they searched the house. Bradford crown court heard that the children were malnourished, with head lice and fungal infections in their nails. Some were wearing nappies despite being of school age, and appeared to crawl upstairs using their hands rather than walking.

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The kitchen was ankle-deep in rubbish, including rotting food and vodka bottles

Bradford council said none of the children were on an “at risk” register or child protection plan when Hamzah died.

A source close to Bradford children’s services insisted this case was “not another Pelka”, a reference to four-year-old Daniel Pelka, who was murdered by his mother and stepfather after they abused and tortured him for years. An independent review into that case ruled that teachers, health professionals, social workers and police officers had treated four-year-old Daniel as if he was invisible.

A spokeswoman for Bradford council said a serious case review into Hamzah’s death had been carried out but would not be published until all legal proceedings, including a forthcoming inquest, had taken place.

The court had heard that Hutton was a “nasty drunk” who killed Hamzah through her “terrible failures” as an alcohol-addicted mother.

She came to court so drunk on Monday morning that she was unfit to give evidence and had to be brought into court by the police, the jury was told.

Taking the stand on Tuesday – a day later than planned – she angrily denied putting alcohol before her children and insisted she did not neglect Hamzah so badly that he died.

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Piles of rubbish were found by officers in Amanda Hutton’s living room

She said her spiral into alcoholism had begun only after Hamzah died on 15 December 2009. Experts have told the court that the boy probably died of malnutrition. Hutton claimed Hamzah was a “faddy eater” who was always underweight but that she had assumed he would “grow out of it”.

Another of her sons, Qaiser, now 22, gave evidence for the prosecution, accusing Hutton of child neglect. He claimed Hamzah slept upright in a urine-soaked buggy that “stank” and that he once saw his little brother eating the contents of his own dirty nappy.

The court heard that Hutton refused help from health visitors as well as the police. She rarely answered the door to visitors, only opening up when police threatened to break her door down in September 2011 after an officer noticed dead flies on her window sill.

Hutton was well known to police because of her turbulent 22-year relationship with Aftab Khan, the father of all eight children.

Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin, the senior investigating officer in the police inquiry, said: “Amanda Hutton had many opportunities to accept the support that was offered to her, and many opportunities to engage with the professionals that are there to support her and her family and she chose not to.

“She was obstructive, she was difficult and she failed in her ability to parent that child, to look after his basic needs and sadly he died in the most difficult of circumstances.”

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A bedroom on the first floor of Amanda Hutton’s house

The detective insisted that police had supported Hutton every time she made a complaint and in every instance alerted social services.

She added: “Amanda has presented as an obstructive person who has gone to great lengths to conceal the death of her child and has been obstructive to police officers and all the other services on a number of occasions.”

A spokeswoman for Bradford council disputed the police claim that it had referred Hutton to social services whenever she had made an allegation of domestic violence.

“The police have not made referrals,” she said. “They send notifications to all West Yorkshire councils of all domestic violence incidents.”

She confirmed none of the eight children were on the “at risk” register or child protection plan.

Hutton said she started seeing Khan, a taxi driver and mechanic, when she was about 16 or 17 years old, and that he was violent towards her throughout their relationship. The jury heard there were records dating back to 1996 of Khan allegedly assaulting Hutton, but that until December 2008 she had withdrawn every complaint. She stayed with him because she loved him, she said.

Under cross-examination she accepted that other women with violent partners had managed to bring up healthy children who were not neglected. She insisted she was not blaming Hamzah’s death on the domestic violence she suffered, saying: “It was just background information.”

Hutton told the court that she moved house after Khan attacked her and her oldest son, Tariq, now 24, in December 2008. Khan eventually pleaded guilty to one charge of battery after Hutton appeared in court to give evidence against him.

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In an interview this week, Khan denied being a violent man but said he felt guilty about Hamzah’s death. “I feel guilty. Of course I should have done more,” he said. “I feel responsibility as a father. But this [Hamzah’s death] was nothing to do with me. It’s clear cut. Believe me, if police had any evidence I’d been involved I’d be in that dock too.”

He said social services had to accept some responsibility for failing Hamzah. “But to be fair to them, [Hutton] hid this well.”

He said she prevented him from seeing Hamzah throughout the 21 months he was lying dead, but insisted he tried to raise the alarm before the boy’s death. The jury heard that Khan had indeed urged police to check on the children’s welfare, after he was arrested for the December 2008 assault. The court heard no evidence that a check ever took place. A year later, Hamzah was dead.

On the day he died, Hutton had gone out to the supermarket. She said she planned to ask a pharmacist for advice on Hamzah’s plummeting weight, though another of her children said she had gone to buy materials for the other child’s school project.

Hutton recalled rushing home when Tariq phoned, saying Hamzah’s eyes were “rolling back in his head”.

She denied a claim made by one of her children that she stopped to buy cigarettes on the way home, and insisted she had not phoned for a takeaway pizza and curry within hours of Hamzah’s death – despite not calling for an ambulance.

Tariq has pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful burial of a child and will be sentenced alongside his mother this week.

In addition to her manslaughter conviction, Hutton had already pleaded guilty to five charges of child neglect relating to Hamzah’s school-age siblings.

Hutton was remanded in custody and will be sentenced tomorrow by Judge Roger Thomas QC