British mother of eight convicted of manslaughter for starving son, four
Manslaughter verdict on alcoholic who left body of boy, four, to mummify in cot for two years
The Guardian in London
A British woman has been found guilty of starving her four-year-old son to death and leaving his corpse to mummify in a cot.
Amanda Hutton, a 43-year-old mother from Bradford, northern England, was responsible for the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan through gross neglect, a crown court jury found.
After the verdict police described Hutton as an "obstructive" woman who refused offers of help and went to great lengths to conceal Hamzah's death in December 2009. She showed no emotion as the foreman announced the jury's verdict.
Hutton had eight children, the oldest of them 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 clothing 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 diapers despite being of school age, and appeared to crawl upstairs using their hands rather than walking.
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.
She said her spiral into alcoholism had begun only after Hamzah died on December 15, 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 diaper.
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.
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.