Couple whose eight-week-old baby daughter died with more than 60 broken bones are jailed
A couple have been jailed after their eight-week-old baby died with more than 60 broken bones in her body.
During their police interviews, Naomi Johnson, 24, and Benjamin O’Shea, 26 (pictured), claimed paramedics caused the fractures suffered by their daughter Amina-Faye – but they were found guilty by a jury of causing or allowing her to suffer serious physical harm.
Amina-Faye had 41 fractures to her ribs and 24 fractures to her limbs when she died in April 2019.
Judge Nigel Peters QC, sentencing at Inner London Crown Court, said that “sadly” this is “yet another harrowing case of parents abusing or being cruel to their child”, adding that “there is no doubt that this is a case of the highest seriousness in terms of cruelty to children in terms of the injuries”.
Medics could not establish a cause of death of “this poor child” and it is not possible to lay blame on which parent caused the fatal injuries and who stood back and allowed it to happen, the court heard.
The judge added that “it is remarkable in this case” that there were no signs of any fractures but the medical experts had found that the injuries were non-accidental and force needed to be applied.
O’Shea, 26, of Southwark, south-east London, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half-years for causing or allowing Amina-Faye to suffer serious physical harm while Johnson, 24, of Battersea, south west London, was jailed for seven years for this offence.
Both of them were also each given two months, to be served consecutively, after being found guilty of cruelty to a person under-16 in relation to a separate child.
Amina-Faye suffered “deliberate, vicious injuries”, with the worst to her right thigh bone which could “only have been caused by a brutal attack”, the court was told.
The femur is not easy to break and “significant force was used to fracture it”, meaning “the baby would have been in great pain,” the judge said.
Johnson and O’Shea called 999 on the morning of April 26 2019 after Amina-Faye stopped breathing.
Despite paramedics arriving within minutes, she died at the scene.
The Metropolitan Police said there were no visible signs of injury and Amina-Faye was originally thought to have suffered a sudden unexplained death – before X-rays showed she had suffered a catalogue of wounds.
The multiple breaks found by radiologists were highly indicative of prolonged and repeated physical abuse, the force said.
Some were recent and others had started to heal.
A special post-mortem examination was carried out but no cause of death was established.
A medical expert concluded the baby’s limb bone fractures had been caused on at least seven occasions, while her rib fractures had been sustained in at least two incidents.
The spread of injuries meant they could not have been caused accidentally and there was also evidence of past bleeding inside Amina-Faye’s head, the court heard.
O’Shea made numerous calls to the NHS 111 medical helpline between 2016 and 2019 about his self-diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and aggression issues, detectives discovered.
Johnson made a call to NHS 111 on April 1 2019 and said Amina-Faye had been coughing blood.
A doctor called back and told O’Shea the baby should be taken to hospital, though she was not, police said.
In text messages found by detectives, the pair admitted slapping a second child they knew and mistreated.
The relationship between Johnson and O’Shea, who met when she was 15 and he was 18 or 19 and have now split up, was described by the judge as “fractious” and “tempestuous”.
It was clear in court that there was still a “temper between the two of them”, the judge said.
He said O’Shea – a former Army reservist – spun a web of lies about his background, work and career to suggest he was suffering after serving in Afghanistan, though it “was all completely untrue.”
Prosecutor Emma Smith said Amina-Faye must have endured “very significant pain and discomfort” amid the “toxic atmosphere” created in the small Southwark flat where her family lived.
There was a disregard for her welfare and steps were not taken to ensure she was safe and well, she said.
Amina-Faye’s case was described as “truly heartbreaking” by Detective Inspector Melanie Pressley, who led the investigation.
After sentencing, she said: “The cruelty and callousness with which the pair discussed the treatment of the other child in this case is shocking.
“Children depend on adults and the children in this case were sorely betrayed by Johnson and O’Shea in the most tragic of ways.
“In eight weeks of life, Amina suffered an unimaginable number of injuries.
“The trauma she endured in her short life is impossible to comprehend. Her injuries are a catalogue of the most despicable abuse.
“Equally incomprehensible is how an adult can inflict such cruelty on defenceless, innocent children.”
She said Johnson and O’Shea had been “steadfast in their refusal” to answer police questions about the baby’s death and had “sought to protect themselves in a way they clearly did not” for their victims.
Detective Constable Caroline Baker, who was on the investigation team, added: “It is difficult to speak of justice in a case like this, however I hope that today’s verdict is a clear message that these children mattered and the abuse they suffered will be punished.”
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