A London couple have been found guilty of physically abusing their eight-week-old baby girl.
Naomi Johnson, 23 and Benjamin O’Shea, 26, were found guilty of causing or allowing the child to suffer serious physical harm, and also of cruelty to a person under-16 in relation to a separate child.
The couple’s offences came to light following the death of their eight-week-old daughter, Amina, on April 26, 2019.
Johnson and O’Shea called 999 after they found that the baby girl had stopped breathing.
Paramedics arrived on the scene in minutes and immediately began attempts to save the little girl’s life, but the child sadly died at the scene.
There were no observable injuries and the cause of her death was originally thought to be Sudden Unexplained Death in Infants.
However, the post mortem skeletal X-rays showed a catalogue of injuries the child sustained in her short life.
Amina was found to have over 60 fractured bones in her body, including 41 identified fractures to her ribs, anteriorly and posteriorly, 24 limb bone fractures.
Radiologists found the multiple fractures were highly indicative that Amina had suffered continued physical abuse.
Some of the fractures were relatively recent while others had begun to heal suggesting that over the course of her eight-week life Amina had been subject to multiple episodes of abuse.
As a result of these concerning findings a special post-mortem was carried out, however no cause of death could be established.
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Due to the level of injury the young girl had sustained, a police investigation was launched on May 3, 2019 and Johnson and O’Shea were immediately arrested.
During the course of their police interviews both Johnson and O’Shea claimed that Amina’s death was the result of an earlier visit to the GP and the fractures had been caused by the paramedics.
On September 11, 2019 O’Shea and Johnson were re-arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.
As part of the police investigation detectives trawled through the text messages exchanged between the pair.
Detectives found a call to NHS 111 from April 1, 2019 from Johnson where she reported Amina had been coughing blood.
When the doctor phoned back and spoke to O’Shea to advise him to take Amina to hospital, O’Shea failed to tell Johnson and the child was not taken to the hospital.
In later police interviews, the pair both denied injuring the child.
In relation to the second child, who was known to the pair, detectives found texts between the pair where they both admitted to slapping the child and treating the child poorly.
Johnson said she had slapped the child three times and then only giving the child water until dinner.
O’Shea in another text to Johnson discussed his difficulty at keeping calm after the child knocked over a drink in a fast food restaurant.
Detective Inspector Melanie Pressley, who led the investigation said: “This is a truly heart-breaking case that has touched all of us who have worked on bringing Johnson and O’Shea before the court for their monstrous crimes.
“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.
“Throughout our investigation we have been unable to establish how the baby died and Johnson and O’Shea have been steadfast in their refusal to answer our questions. They have sought to protect themselves in a way they clearly did not for the two children in this case.”
Detective Constable Caroline Baker, part of the investigation team, said: “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.”
The pair will be sentenced on Friday, December 17 at the Inner London Crown Court.
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