Mother 'stabbed daughter then doused her in acid'

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A mother repeatedly stabbed her three-year-old daughter before dousing her body in acid in a bid to "dissolve her away", a court heard today.

The body of Alia Ahmed Jama was found by police at the home she shared with her mother Iman Omar Yousef, 25, in Erdington, Birmingham, in February.

Yousef, a paranoid schizophrenic, was initially charged with her murder but at Birmingham Crown Court today a Judge, Mr Justice Flaux, ruled that she was unfit to plead to the charge and jurors were instructed to consider whether she was guilty of unlawfully killing her daughter.

James Burbidge QC, prosecuting, told the court: "You are going to hear about a sad and tragic case because it concerns the death of a three-year-old girl.

"In this unusual set of circumstances all you have to determine is whether the prosecution has made you sure that Iman Omar Yousef unlawfully killed her three-year-old daughter."

The prosecutor told the jury that two officers from West Midlands Police attended the address in Milverton Road on February 13 after concerns for Alia's wellbeing were raised by Yousef's mother.

He said: "What they found was truly a shocking sight.

"She was on the floor and not on the bed, however her body was in a state of decomposition in that the skin had melted away exposing bone, due to some form of corrosive substance having been applied to her torso.

"The body had then been partly covered with black and green bin liners.

"The officers could smell what seemed like acid."

The prosecutor told the court that a number of stab wounds had been inflicted, most likely with a large kitchen knife, though no weapon was recovered from the scene.

He went on: "There is compelling evidence, we say, that the little girl had been repeatedly stabbed while lying on the bedroom floor.

"You may think she was killed swiftly and you may think she was killed by her mother with a knife or knives.

"The conclusion on all of the evidence, members of the jury...will be fairly drawn that Alia was struck on a number of occasions so that she bled and then some kind of acidic substance applied to her body in the belief, perhaps, that it would dissolve her away."

Dr James Lucas, a pathologist who carried out a post mortem examination on Alia's body, told the court "very extensive corrosive damage" had hampered interpretation of her injuries, making it impossible for him to ascertain a cause of death.

He told the jury that the front of the child's body, specifically her shoulders, chest and upper abdomen, displayed evidence of "dozens of penetrating injuries of varying shapes and sizes".

The pathologist said many of the stab wounds had gone right through the three-year-old's body, piercing the carpet beneath her. There were also "scores" of penetrating wounds on the child's back, the court heard.

Experts have been unable to identify what corrosive substance was applied to the body, but Dr Lucas told the court a litmus paper test indicated it was an acid rather than an alkaline.

Dr Lucas told the court that Alia had not swallowed any of the acidic substance and was either "deeply unconscious or dead" when it was applied to her body.

The acid had partly corroded a number of her internal organs, including her heart and lungs as well as part of her spine, ribcage and breastbone.

The court heard that social workers had visited Yousef, an asylum seeker from Somalia, the day before Alia's body was found amid concerns over her supervision and whether their accommodation was suitable.

Mr Burbidge told the court Yousef was "reluctant" to allow social services access to Alia's medical records but took her to a GP for a check-up later that day where the child was found to be healthy.

The prosecutor said Yousef's mother and aunt, who lived in Leicester, had concerns for her mental health, describing her as "acting strangely and talking to herself".

Her mother told police she had removed knives from her daughter's possession on two occasions.