Mother jailed for breaking baby's legs

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The Independent Online
A woman who broke her "ugly" baby daughter's legs and then tried to suffocate the child was jailed for four years yesterday.

Four months after giving birth to triplets, Tyabo Bishi systematically abused and ill-treated her daughter Gabrielle, often leaving her wearing soiled clothes and in a cold room while doting on her two sons.

At one stage, social workers took the child into care, Judge Stephen Waller was told at Snaresbrook Crown Court, east London. Six months later they agreed to return the one-year-old to Bishi, hoping that she would at last be able to bond with her daughter.

But almost immediately, Bishi broke the Gabrielle's legs. The painful injuries remained undetected for two weeks, until Gabrielle was taken unconscious to hospital with a "heart block" - caused when 42-year- old Bishi spent several minutes trying to suffocate her.

But she panicked at the sight of the baby's limp body, and began screaming for help.

Sentencing Bishi, of Link Street, Lower Clapton, east London, who was convicted last month of three charges of cruelty, the judge told her that he had no option but to impose a substantial jail sentence.

It was clear, he said, that after giving birth to triplets she treated her young sons "perfectly well" but was "consistently cruel" to her daughter.

"In other people's care she blossomed. In your care she failed to put on weight and suffered injuries which were often serious," he said. "The evidence was that you thought this little girl was ugly."

The judge went on: "I have very much in the forefront of my mind the fact that a prison sentence will deprive your two sons of your company. But I must bear in mind recent legislation in Parliament regarding cruelty to children and also take into account public concern in cases of this type."

The court heard that Bishi, who also has two older children, had worked for 10 years in a nursery school and had a lot of experience in looking after children. But after the triplets were born two years ago she completely failed to bond with Gabrielle and "wilfully" injured her.

Emma Gluckstein, for the prosecution, said Gabrielle's life could not have been more different from that of her baby brothers, who were always dressed in clean clothes and kept warm.

A health worker who tried to help Bishi look after her daughter said the woman once told her: "Don't give that monkey my boys' food."

The court heard that Gabrielle was first admitted to hospital with a hernia when she was just two months old. A few months later, she was back again, after social workers found her limp, dehydrated and with a bloodshot eye.

Soon afterwards, Gabrielle was placed with foster parents. But not long after being reunited with her mother, the baby was taken unconscious to hospital in what Bishi's defence accepted was a "life threatening" incident.

Tests showed the child had suffered a heart block, which doctors decided was caused by her being suffocated for "two to three minutes".

The court heard that Gabrielle was now back with foster parents and had since made a full recovery.