Blackburn couple found guilty of child abuse

A ‘BEASTLY and abhorrent’ couple inflicted a catalogue of injuries to their baby and tried to cover it up by swapping her indentity with her twin.

Nafisa and Mohammed Karolia, of Meadow Close, Blackburn, hid their seven- month-old daughter from health visitors until her death in June 2009.

A jury at Preston Crown Court today found the couple guilty of child cruelty.

The Karolias put forward her identical sibling ‘Twin A’ to health workers as ‘Twin M’, swapped certificates and made up excuses as to why she wasn’t at home.

The child, Twin M, died of bronchopneumonia.

The trial revealed Twin M had sustained a fractured rib six weeks earlier, probably from squeezing, a more recent fractured left leg and within 24 hours of death, a fractured right upper arm, left upper leg, lower leg, right tibia and fibia, all likely to have been caused by twisting, shaking or rotating.

There was bleeding to the eyes, eye socket, abrasions to corneas, scratches to her ears, two brain bleeds possibly caused by sudden physical force and blood in the spinal column.

There were also several head and body bruises, a mouth ulcer and a ‘highly visible’ nose injury probably caused by a ‘clip or clasp’ pinching the baby’s nose.

The prosecution said it was not able to prove that the string of injuries contributed to the baby catching the infection which caused her death.

The court heard that following her death, no injuries were immediately apparent on Twin M, but tests later pointed the finger of suspicion at the parents wilfully inficting injuries over a period of time that would have been impossible not to notice.

Mum Nafisa, 22, and dad Mohammed, 29, were described by friends, family and even duped health workers as open and doting parents.

The couple did not to take to the stand during the trial and never tried to explain the multiple fractures, brain bleeds and facial injuries to police.

In the run-up to Twin M’s death on June 15, 2009, her parents began to hide her away and present her twin to visitors as her sister.

On the morning of June 2, nursery nurse Naima Khan attended a pre-arranged visit at the family home.

She was told a lie that the children were on a trip to the zoo with grandparents.

Later that afternoon, Nafisa’s care worker, Geraldine Greenwood, from the Lancashire Care Foundation Trust visited.

Only the healthy, smaller Twin A was there, but was presented as Twin M.

After Twin M died, the Karolias filled in the death certificate in the name of Twin A and pretended that the surviving twin was Twin M.

It was only in September 2009, three months after the death, when Blackburn with Darwen family support worker Catherine Duckworth noticed that the surviving twin’s head circumference did not match previous records, that she raised the alarm about a potential cover-up.

By then a police investigation was already underway – but it was only made public when the inquest was opened.

Following the Lancashire Telegraph’s report of Twin M’s inquest in April 2010, neighbours of the Karolias came forward.

They told police that they had only ever seen the parents with one of the twins and one resident reported hearing frequent ‘female screaming episodes’ from early 2009.

The neighbour said there was nothing to indicate Nafisa – who was doing a childhood studies course – had given birth to two babies.

Judge Justice Irwin said the couple would face ‘inevitable considerable prison sentences’ and asked for psychiatric reports ahead of sentencing in October.