Imam told mum her 'daughter was possessed by evil spirit' before she allegedly killed the toddler, Melbourne court told

Sanaya Sahib, who was 14-month-old when she died, would 'cry and growl to the roof', pull her mother's hair and scratch her, police say 

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An imam told a mother her 14-month-old daughter was possessed by an “evil spirit” before she allegedly murdered the toddler. 

Sofina Nikat, 23, was struggling to care for her daughter Sanaya Sahib, who had become irritable and constantly demanding in the months before her death, a police summary released by the court said, reports Melbourne newspaper The Age

The young mother, who was separated from Sanaya’s father, asked her parents in Fiji for guidance. 

Ms Nikat migrated from Fiji to Australia for an arranged marriage, local media reports

But her parents reportedly told her they had consulted an imam, who had found Sanaya had “negative energy” and was “possessed by an evil spirit”. 

According to the Melbourne paper, Ms Nikat received holy water, lockets and prayers to remove the spirit and cleanse both of them. 

The police summary said Ms Nikat told her cousin Sanaya’s behaviour was so irritating that she wanted to kill herself and her daughter in the months and weeks before the alleged murder. 

Ms Nikat told the police Sanaya would "cry and growl to the roof", scratch her and pull her hair and that she was “better off in a better place”. 

Sanaya suffered a seizure a week before she was killed. 

Ms Nikat was charged with her daughter’s murder in April after Sanaya’s body was found in Darebin Creek, which runs through the northern suburbs of Melbourne. 

She admitted to police having taken her daughter for a walk because the child would not stop screaming and she covered the baby’s mouth and nose until she could no longer breath, before throwing her body in the creek, The Age reports. 

Forensic pathologist Dr Victoria Francis, who performed the autopsy, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that the exact cause of death could not be determined and that the possibility she had drowned should not be excluded. 

The court was told Ms Nikat suffered from mental health problems before and after her daughter’s birth. 

She is standing trial for her daughter’s murder and reportedly cried throughout the court hearing.