Couple jailed for killing toddler

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The Independent Online

A mother and her partner were jailed today over the death of a two-year-old girl who suffered horrific injuries following weeks of appalling abuse.

Subhan Anwar, 21, was convicted at Bradford Crown Court of the murder of Sanam Navsarka and told he must serve a minimum of 23 years.

His partner and mother of the child, Zahbeena Navsarka, also 21, was cleared of her daughter's murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

She was jailed for nine years.

The couple, of Riddings Road, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, were condemned for their cruel and selfish treatment of Sanam, with the judge adding that "humanity had let her down".

Kirklees Social Services confirmed a serious case review had been launched but stressed Sanam was not on the child protection register and Anwar was not known to the authorities.

The jury heard a mental health worker caring for Sanam's grandmother became worried that the girl could be in danger.

A social worker visited the family nine months before Sanam's death, but found no injuries on the little girl, the jury was told.

The court heard the violence inflicted on the youngster happened near the end of her life when Anwar was present.

Sanam's tiny hand prints and bloodstains were found inside cupboards at the home in Huddersfield and also at a former property on Howley Walk, in Batley, West Yorkshire.

Anwar, who is not Sanam's father, admitted to police after his arrest that he put the girl in the cupboard as a punishment and said Navsarka punished her in the same way.

Both her thigh bones had been fractured, causing fatty deposits to enter her bloodstream and resulting in her death, and she had fractures to both her arms.

Both denied murder and blamed each other for the plight of the child.

Navsarka had admitted a charge of failing to protect Sanam.

However, the jury took just three hours to convict Anwar of murder and his partner of manslaughter.

Anwar sobbed uncontrollably in the dock as the verdict was delivered. Navsarka dabbed her face with tissues as the jury returned the verdicts.

Jailing them, Judge Peter Thornton QC said: "This is a truly terrible case and, at the time of Sanam's death on May 8 2008, she had 107 separate injuries on the outside of her body from top to toe.

"Worse than that, she had all four limbs broken, fractures to both forearms and both thigh bones, all of these injuries inflicted in the last four weeks of her life.

"In short, she was bruised and battered repeatedly."

The judge said a metal pole was used to shatter her leg.

"It is almost unbelievable the pain and anguish she must have suffered, not just once or twice, but repeatedly and persistently over weeks at your cruel and selfish hands," he said.

The judge added: "It is clear you both deliberately chose not to have her treated to avoid being found out.

"Your deliberate cruelty is beyond belief."

In Anwar's case, the judge said there were no mitigating factors apart from his young age, but he conceded his actions were not sadistic or that he took any pleasure from them.

Referring to Navsarka, the judge said, as a mother, she had let her child down.

He added: "You put your relationship with Anwar first, ignoring the needs of your vulnerable child.

"You failed to protect her from serious harm, knowing what was being done to her."

The judge said, knowing what pain the youngster was going through, her actions were unbelievable.

He added: "You did nothing, absolutely nothing. That is unbelievable. It is also incredibly cruel.

"This was a gross abuse of trust by you as a mother."

He concluded: "You selfishly put yourself and relationship with Anwar before your child."

The court was told Anwar was married when he met Navsarka at his uncle's mobile phone shop in Batley.

He told the court they had sex the first time they met in the shop and went on to have a relationship with her.