Father found guilty of 11-week-old’s murder

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Father found guilty of 11-week-old’s murder


A South Auckland man accused of starving, beating and finally killing his 11-week-old daughter has been found guilty of murder.

The 12 day trial for Azees Mahomed, 31, and his wife Tabbasum Mahomed, 26, came to a close at Auckland’s High Court yesterday morning.

The six-woman and five-man jury deliberated for five hours before returning the unanimous verdicts this morning.

The couple’s daughter, 11-week-old Tahani Mahomed, died in Auckland’s Starship Hospital on New Years Day, 2008, after she arrived at Middlemore Hospital on December 28, 2007, with severe head injuries.

Azees Mahomed was found guilty of murdering Tahani.

The jury also found him guilty of two charges of grievous bodily harm – which relate to breaking his daughter’s leg and giving her a head injury so severe it caused brain damage between October 7 and December 26, 2007 – and one count of failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Tabbasum Mahomed was found guilty of one charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Justice Harrison thanked the jury for their service in “a particularly difficult and traumatic trial”.

“The circumstances have been extraordinary and traumatic.”

The jury forewoman broke down in tears after delivering the verdict.

Justice Rhys Harrison summed up the case yesterday morning, telling the jury that given the tragic circumstances of baby Tahani’s death it was “only natural” if they had felt an “emotional response” during the trial.

“However I ask you when you sit down in the jury room to put those emotions aside and focus purely on the evidence.”

The burden of proof lay with the crown and the jury would have to be sure that each charge had been proven beyond reasonable doubt, Justice Harrison said.

On the opening day of the trial crown prosecutor Philip Hamlin had told the jury the South African born couple had treated their young daughter with “systematic neglect and violence”.

Tahani had been born healthy and of a good weight on October 7, 2007, but, just over two months later, lay dead, Mr Hamlin said.

“In 11 weeks, baby Tahani has been neglected and not fed.

“In 11 weeks, baby Tahani has been left in a hot car for hours.

“In 11 weeks, baby Tahani has brain injury from the first injury she suffered.

“In 11 weeks, baby Tahani was the victim of the second and fatal head injury,” Mr Hamlin told the jury.

The Crown alleged Tahani was murdered by her father when her head was “slammed against a very hard surface, twice”.

The second blow to head had been of such violence the child never recovered, Mr Hamlin said. Azees Mohamed was also responsible for pulling the baby’s left leg so hard it broke her shin bone, he said.

When the parents finally took their daughter to hospital on December 28, 2007, she was gravely ill, the court heard.

The doctor who examined Tahani when she arrived at Middlemore Hospital described her as severely “malnourished”, estimating her weight to be only 4 kilograms.

Mr Hamlin said that, when the Mahomeds had arrived at the hospital, they had told medical staff “they could not understand how or why the baby was in such a critical condition”.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Lynch of Manukau police said he was pleased with the outcome.

“It was clear very early on in the investigation that these were non-accidental injuries and there were only two people who could have inflicted them.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the investigation team and the Crown prosecution team for getting this result today.”

Police bugged the Mahomed’s home after the incident, and the intercepted taped conversations were played to the jury during the trial.

These tapes were very useful to police during the investigation, Mr Lynch said.

In the taped conversations, the couple could be heard praying to Allah and talking about how the infant could have been fatally injured.

The Mahomeds were remanded in custody until sentencing on December 15.


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