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22 October 2015, 11:31
A Birmingham couple accused of murdering a 14-month-old boy have been jailed for a total of almost 25 years.
Santino Balaz, a Czech national, who was living in Balsall Heath, was just 14 months old when he died on New Year’s Day this year.
His half sister Tereza Lackova and her partner Marek Holub had been looking after the child at the Brighton Road property and had previously claimed his death and injuries was down to ghosts and spirits that haunted their flat.
On Wednesday, Holub pleaded guilty to murder, child neglect and child cruelty. Lackova has pleaded to allowing the death of a child and child neglect at Leicester Crown Court.
27 year old Holub's been sentenced to life with a minimum of 19 years for murder along with 8 years for child neglect. Both of his sentences will run concurrently.
Lackova, who's 20 years old, will serve 5 years for allowing the death of a child and 3 years for child neglect that will run concurrently.
Santino's mother returned to the Czech Republic in September 2014 leaving him with his sisters and then in November, the other sister also left so he was left with Holub and Lackova.
Staff at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, noticed he had a number of visible injuries, including bruises to his face, chest, legs and arms when he was brought in on New Years Day.
A post mortem showed he had suffered numerous injuries and trauma for weeks before he died.
Detective Inspector Justin Spanner, from the force’s Homicide team, said: “Santino was supposed to be in a safe environment and in the care of his own family − his sister and her boyfriend.
“The evidence tells us that Santino was assaulted on at least three occasions between November and New Year’s Day; these assaults ultimately led to his death.
“The couple claimed that either the spirit of Lackova’s grandmother who had died a short time ago or the death of the woman who occupied their flat before them had come back to injure Santino.
“We know from our enquiries that the pair had shared photos of Santino’s injuries on their Facebook accounts and claimed the ghosts had caused them; unfortunately no-one ever came forward to report concerns around these images.
“I would like this case to serve as a reminder to people that if they have concerns over a child’s welfare please report it to police so we can put the necessary checks in place to make sure they are safe.
“The death of one so young is always tragic but the agony that this young boy must have endured over his short life is truly dreadful, we can only take comfort in the fact that Tereza Lackova and Marek Holub are behind bars for a significant period."