THE man accused of killing toddler Khaleel Hussain appeared to confess he had deliberately shaken the little boy in a fit of temper – in a dramatic moment in the trial.
But Keith Brown went on to deny doing so and to insist the two-year-old’s fatal brain injuries had been caused when he accidentally dropped him while throwing him in the air.
Brown (23) of Swan Lane, Stoke, Coventry, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the murder of the toddler in October 2013.
Sitting as far from him in the dock as she can, Khaleel’s mother Samina Kauser (25) of Richmond Street, Stoke, Coventry, has denied allowing the death of a child by failing to take steps she could reasonably have been expected to take to protect him.
Khaleel died of a severe brain injury despite a desperate operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in a bid to save his life after Kauser had made a 999 call at lunchtime on October 21.
She had left Khaleel at home with Brown while she went shopping, despite allegedly knowing he posed a risk to Khaleel, following an incident five days earlier when Brown was alleged to have smothered the toddler.
It is alleged Khaleel’s fatal injury had been caused by Brown, probably by shaking him forcibly and throwing him down onto a soft surface, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC has told the jury.
Mr Hankin put to him: “You had shaken him in a fit of anger.” Brown answered: “Yes.”
Seeking confirmation of his reply, the barrister asked: “You did, didn’t you?” Again Brown responded: “Yes.”
But, asked to tell the jury ‘what you really did,’ he then denied shaking Khaleel.
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.”
Earlier, as Brown began to give his evidence in the fourth week of the trial his barrister Rachel Brand QC asked him: “Do you accept that when Khaleel received his fatal injuries he was in your sole care?” Brown said that he did.
Miss Brand asked: “Did you do anything deliberately to him with the intention of killing him or causing him really serious injury?” Brown replied: “No.”
Brown, who had two children of his own from a previous relationship, said he felt he got on OK with Khaleel, and ‘as far as I could see, he liked me.’
He said he would play with Khaleel and tickle him, but accepted he was sometimes too rough with him when doing so.
But he said his attitude towards Khaleel changed because of his ‘constant crying,’ some of which Brown described as ‘fake crying’ because there were no tears.
Miss Brand asked him whether there had ever been an incident when Kauser had come upstairs and found him leaning over Khaleel’s bed, and he said there had not.
He was asked: “Have you ever smothered him with his duvet as he lay in his bed?” Brown replied: “Never.”
And he said that on October 21 Khaleel had been crying after Kauser had gone out shopping, leaving him at home and asking Brown to look after him.
Brown said he became annoyed and frustrated, and had picked Khaleel up and began throwing him in the air almost to the ceiling and catching him to stop him crying.
But he then got it ‘terribly wrong’ and missed him, and Khaleel landed on his head on the floor.
Kauser’s barrister Zafar Ali QC put to him: “You presented yourself to Miss Kauser as a dedicated boyfriend, but the honeymoon period came to an end on the 21st of October. That’s when you revealed your true colours.” Brown answered: “No.”
Mr Ali: “After you had hurt Khaleel and seen his eyes half open and half shut, you felt terrible. That’s your evidence. Why didn’t you call an ambulance?” Brown replied: “I was scared. I weren’t thinking straight.”
Brown accepted that when Kauser got home she was sobbing uncontrollably as she then called for an ambulance after he had told her Khaleel had fallen down the stairs.
“We all know that was a lie. It was obvious to you that she believed you, and you sat there and listened to her tell your lie to the emergency operator, and you did nothing to prevent her repeating your lie,” commented Mr Ali.
“You did not say anything, and you did not do anything. You just watched the drama unfold, but you say you were feeling ‘terrible and ashamed.’” Brown agreed.
Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, put to him: “You were sick and tired on his crying.” He replied: “At times.”
Brown said he would sometimes go upstairs to check on Khaleel after he had gone to bed ‘if Sam asked me’ or if she was outside having a smoke.
Mr Hankin suggested: “It’s nonsense. You’re just making it up to justify why you went up that night when you ended up smothering him with his duvet.
“That evening you went upstairs, not to check on him, but because you had had enough of him.” Brown answered: “No.”
Mr Hankin put to him: “You went upstairs to deal with him because he was moaning and whinging, and Samina was letting him. When he would not shut up, you put your hands either side of his face and you held his duvet over his head.”
“You could feel Khaleel struggling when you smothered him, because he must have struggled for 30 seconds or more to have suffered the damage that was later found in his lungs.”
But Brown insisted: “No. It didn’t happen.”
Of the day Khaleel suffered his fatal injury, Mr Hankin said: “What you are now claiming is an accident. After accidents carers call for medical attention without delay. You said you were too scared to seek assistance.”
Brown responded: “Yes, I was panicking.”
Mr Hankin commented: “You weren’t panicking so much that your immediate reaction was to carry Khaleel downstairs.
“If you had really witnessed a dreadful accident and this young boy was lying on the floor clearly unwell you would have left him there. He was right next to his bed, if you felt it necessary to move him.
“But instead you picked him up and you went through the doorway onto the landing, negotiated your way down those narrow and steep stairs, round the corner, through another doorway into the lounge.
“You would only do that if you were already contriving your explanation that he had fallen down the stairs. You were only thinking about you, not that little boy.”
But Brown replied: “No, I was thinking about him.”
Mr Hankin continued: “Because you had deliberately hurt him.” Brown answered: “No.”
His apparent confession over shaking the toddler followed.
The trial continues.