Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Child cruelty couple get five years

Mohammed Karolia and his wife Nafisa have been jailed for five years for child cruelty

A couple said to have swapped the identity of their dead baby daughter to her twin sister in a bid to cover injuries they inflicted have been jailed for five years.

The seven-month-old was rushed to hospital in Blackburn, Lancashire, after her parents reported she had breathing difficulties, and was pronounced dead shortly after.

Preston Crown Court heard Mohammed Karolia, 29, and wife Nafisa, 22, made a deliberate attempt to hide the ailing twin from the outside world in the weeks leading up to her death in June 2009.

It was alleged the defendants told medics at Royal Blackburn Hospital the girl was the healthier and smaller of their identical twins before they allegedly later switched to naming her sibling on the death certificate.

The couple denied any baby swap, which was described by their legal teams as "fanciful" and "far-fetched", but the jury convicted them in July of child cruelty after a five-week trial.

Both chose not to give evidence, they maintain their innocence and do not believe the other was responsible for the injuries, but the trial heard that no one else looked after the children.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Irwin said it remains unclear whether a swap did take place but what matters is that the child had been hurt and "victimised" while the other identical twin was "looked after well".

Addressing the pair, he said: "Only you two know if both of you or one of you have directed and inflicted the injuries.

"Whichever of those is true, you certainly knew it was happening, you knew it was wrong, gave it encouragement and concealed it, and you have continued to deny it."

The Karolias will be released on licence halfway through their jail terms and will then have to serve an extended licence period of five years.

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