A MURDERER who lost his temper and violently shook Coventry toddler Khaleel Hussain causing fatal brain injuries has been jailed for life – and the youngster’s mother imprisoned to three years.
A ‘serious case review’ will shortly establish whether the child protection agencies could have done more to prevent the two-year-old’s death.
It follows a serious case review into Coventry schoolboy Daniel Pelka’s murder which found multiple failings by the authorities, and the city council’s children’s services department being rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.
Keith Brown (23) of Swan Lane, Stoke, Coventry, who had denied murdering Khaleel in October 2013, had a history of domestic violence and was known to the authorities.
After 10 hours and 12 minutes at the end of a six-week trial at Warwick Crown Court, the jury found him guilty last Friday by a unanimous verdict.
He will be in jail for a minimum of 15 years before parole can be considered, the judge ordered.
Khaleel’s mother Samina Kauser (25) of Richmond Street, Stoke, Coventry, was found guilty of allowing the death of a child by failing to take steps she could reasonably have been expected to take to protect him.
The pair were sentenced on Tuesday (July 21).
A spokesperson for the Coventry Safeguarding Children Board, which is carrying out the serious case review (SCR), said it was commissioned following Khaleel’s death in 2013.
He added: “SCRs are not designed to apportion blame but to discover whether more could or should have been done to help Khaleel by the agencies involved in his life.
“We welcome the convictions in this case and aim to publish the SCR into Khaleel’s death in the coming weeks.”
During the trial Mr Hankin told the jury that two-year-old Khaleel was rushed to University Hospital in Coventry after Kauser made a 999 call at lunchtime on October 21, 2013.
Because of the severity of his injury he was swiftly transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where consultant neurosurgeon Desiderio Rodrigues carried out emergency surgery.
But the injury to his brain was so severe that Khaleel had little chance of surviving – and he died the following day.
Kauser had left Khaleel in the house with Brown while she went to a nearby shop, despite an incident a week earlier when she had found him smothering the boy’s face with a duvet.
Following his death Khaleel was found to have suffered a serious swelling and subdural haematoma, which Mr Rodrigues said was consistent with ‘shaken baby syndrome.’
And the jury heard a post mortem examination revealed bleeding in Khaleel’s eyes and lungs prior to the incident which caused his death – and which could be caused by smothering.
That related to an incident five days earlier when Kauser had gone up to her little son’s room and found Brown smothering him with his duvet – although in court Brown denied doing so and she denied seeing it.
Despite that incident, Kauser had allowed Khaleel’s death by failing to protect from the risk of violence by Brown.
At first both defendants claimed Khaleel had fallen down the stairs, with Kauser claiming she had been in the house at the time.
Giving evidence, she said she did not believe there was any risk in leaving Khaleel with Brown, and that she had believed his story that her son had fallen down the stairs.
Brown claimed in court that the injury had been caused when he became annoyed and frustrated with Khaleel’s crying on finding his mother had gone out without him.
He said he had picked Khaleel up and began throwing him in the air almost to the ceiling and catching him to stop him crying – but then got it ‘terribly wrong’ and missed him, and Khaleel landed on his head on the floor.
Cross-examining him, Mr Hankin had put to him: “You had shaken him in a fit of anger.” And Brown answered: “Yes.”
Seeking confirmation of his reply, the barrister asked: “You did, didn’t you?” Again Brown responded: “Yes.”
When he then denied it, Mr Hankin asked him: “Were you just going to tell the jury the truth for a moment? Were you going to tell them ‘I did deliberately hurt him’ by shaking him?” But Brown answered: “No, I didn’t.”
The maximum sentence for Kauser’s crime is 14 years imprisonment, the court heard.
Trying the persuade the judge, Mr Justice Lindblom, to pass a suspended sentence on Kauser, her barrister Zafar Ali QC said: “Samina Kauser was a single mother, only 23 years old, when her son was murdered.
“The crime the jury have found her guilty of is essentially a crime of negligence.
“She was certainly negligent on that terrible Monday afternoon when she left her son at home with Mr Brown. But for her failure to take adequate steps to protect her son, he would still be alive today.
“At its upper end, where what is involved is causing the death of a child, it may very well be close to an offence of manslaughter; but in our submission Miss Kauser falls into the lower range, allowing rather than causing the death of her son.
“Miss Kauser was an attentive, loving and committed mother. There is clear evidence of her real grief and genuine remorse.
“Her culpability arises from a failure to protect her son from Mr Brown when she appreciated, or should have appreciated, that Khaleel would suffer severe harm at the hands of Mr Brown.”
Mr Ali said that awareness should have arisen from ‘the duvet incident,’ rather than from a continued course of violence.
And he added: “She will always be seen as the mother who allowed her son to be murdered. That is the heaviest of burdens, and she will carry that with her for the rest of her life.”
Rachel Brand QC, for Brown, who the court heard had four previous convictions for common assault on a former partner, said he was just 21 at the time and lacked maturity.
“I still maintain this was a flash of temper case, even allowing for the evidence of the previous soft smothering incident which was itself a flash of temper.
“I submit this case is a world away from those cases the court is required to deal with where a brutal offender has inflicted injuries on a child on a regular basis.
“What Your Lordship has to deal with is the consequence of a few moments of madness on the part of Keith Brown which led to the loss of a young life.”
Jailing them, Mr Justice Lindblom told them: “The killing of a young child is always a terrible tragedy, not only for that young person but also for those who loved him.”
He told Kauser: “I recognise that Khaleel’s murder is a dreadful tragedy, not only for him, but also for you. He was your only son, and you loved him and had brought him up on your own.
“But you were well aware he (Brown) was impatient and intolerant, and likely to become annoyed when Khaleel cried or was involved in what he called fake crying.
“In particular you described an incident which occurred about five days before Khaleel died. You found Mr Brown standing over Khaleel’s bed, with his hands about a foot apart, pressing down on the duvet over his face, and you pulled him away.
“It is clear to me that, in convicting you, the jury must have accepted that the incident did occur in the way you first described in your police interview.
“That showed Mr Brown posed a risk to Khaleel, but you left Khaleel alone with Mr Brown again when you went to the shops. You knew he was likely to become agitated and upset at being left, and you knew this was likely to anger Mr Brown.
“I recognise that Khaleel’s murder is a tragedy you have found hard to bear, and that your remorse is genuine.
“Your offence is, however, so serious that it can only be dealt with by a substantial sentence of immediate custody.”
Mr Justice Lindblom told Brown: “Children of that age are not always easy to look after, and it is clear Khaleel’s behaviour could be challenging; but that is in no way an excuse for what you did to him when you killed him.”
He said it was clear the jury rejected Brown’s account in court that he had grabbed Khaleel and was throwing him into the air and catching him when he missed, and the toddler landed on his head on the floor.
“The jury was satisfied it was a violent shaking by you in a fit of temper. It was violent enough to cause a catastrophic brain injury to a child who was not yet three years old.
“He was entirely defenceless against any violence you chose to inflict upon him, and there was nobody else in the house to stop you.
“I accept you are genuinely and deeply remorseful for what you have done; but your crime can only be regarded as a terrible offence with an utterly tragic result. I accept you killed Khaleel in a sudden fit of rage.”
Detective Inspector Jim Foy, from the Public Protection Unit in Coventry, said: “This was a difficult case as there were no witnesses and no CCTV showing what led to Khaleel’s death. The police investigation was built on the string of lies told by Brown and Kauser.
“During sentencing, the judge highlighted two aggravating factors; Khaleel was left with Brown who breached his position of trust and responsibility and he did not ring for an ambulance for 20 minutes. These factors have led to him being handed a life sentence today.”