Birmingham girl starved to death

A mother has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for starving her daughter to death in Birmingham.

Seven year old Khyra Ishaq from Handsworth had lost 40% of her body weight when she died in May 2008.

35 year old Angela Gordon, who claimed she was depressed at the time, was cleared of her daughter's murder but convicted along with her partner, 30 year old Junaid Abuhamza, of Khyra's manslaughter.

The image of Khyra's skeletal body seen by shocked jurors contrasted sharply with pictures of a well-stocked family kitchen shown to Birmingham Crown Court.

The seven-year-old died when her body succumbed to an infection after months of "deliberate starvation", prosecutors said.

Angela GordonJurors were shown a series of pictures from inside the terrace house where Khyra lived with five other children under the care of Gordon and Abuhamza, including photographs of the kitchen and a bamboo cane used as part of a "punishment regime".

Timothy Raggatt QC told jurors at Birmingham Crown Court: "It isn't that this house was short of food. As there is lots of food in this household."

But the court heard that the kitchen was kept locked by a bolt "out of the reach of the children" to prevent them helping themselves to food.

Mr Justice Roderick Evans told them: "It is not right to say that these children suffered from neglect. Neglect is an inadequate and inappropriate description of the way they were treated.

"Rather, they were subjected to a domestic regime of punishment which was chilling in its harshness and cruelty.

"A regime introduced by you, Abuhamza, as it had its origins in your own upbringing, but a regime to which you, Gordon, became a party."

He told Gordon her cruelty was "horrific" and made worse because she was Khyra's mother.

Birmingham children's services response:

Statement from Tony Howell, Strategic Director Children Young People and Families, Birmingham City Council:

"I would like to begin by saying how sorry I am that we were unable to save Khyra Ishaq.

It is with great sadness today that we remember Khyra and our deepest sympathies again go out to her family and to those who knew her.

The task of protecting children in a city as large and complex as Birmingham is huge.

We have more than a quarter of a million children, 2,000 of whom are in care and a further 1,300 subject to child protection plans.

However, Khyra’s death has redoubled our commitment to improve support for vulnerable children and families in this city.

There is a Serious Case Review still to be concluded by the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board and approved by Ofsted.

While we are not able to comment ahead of the release of the Serious Case Review, we can say that in the two years since Khyra’s death, there have been major changes and improvements in the way we protect vulnerable children and in the way we work more closely with our colleagues in other agencies, particularly the police."