A three-year-old girl who may have witnessed the murder of her mother has been put under special protection, police said yesterday.
The child has described how three girls beat her mother Amina, 24, at their home in Washington, Tyne and Wear, last Friday night.
Specially trained officers have interviewed her and the details she gave are being checked as detectives try to assess the significance of what she disclosed.
Detective Superintendent Ian Lynch, leading the inquiry, told a news conference: "We are very hopeful that, as a result of the interview, we can progress on a number of leads." In the meantime, he said, police were conscious that the girl could be in danger."Steps have been taken to ensure the ongoing safety of that child. Protection is being provided."
She told police that she and her mother were alone in the house with her 18-month-old sister and younger brother. The children's father Syed Nurul Ahmed, 31, left the house at 4.45pm to go to work in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The attack happened some time between then and 11.10pm when police arrived in response to a frantic call from a relative in the Midlands who had heard over the telephone from the three-year-old about her mother being beaten.
Mr Lynch said there was no sign of forced entry and he believed Mrs Khatun - who died from multiple injuries, including stab wounds - knew her killer.
He said the child had described how a "pretty girl" entered the house and "took pan" - a leaf containing rose petals, nuts or berries which is rolled up and chewed - the Bangladeshi equivalent of offering a visitor a cup of tea. Some time later, a fight developed between the girl and her mother, and they were joined by two other girls. Police said the child used the term "fossa" to describe the girls' clothing - a term which can mean, casual, scruffy, or not Asian.
Mr Lynch said they were trying to check what the girl had disclosed. Because of her age, they had to be aware of the possibility of her being confused.