Hamzah mother's 'threat to kill'
Published 04/10/2013 | 03:31
An alcoholic mother of eight who starved her four-year-old son to death threatened to kill her other children, a judge who sentenced her to 15 years in prison has heard.
New revelations about Amanda Hutton's behaviour emerged as she was jailed for the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan, whose decomposed body was found at her home almost two years after he died in December 2009.
Judge Roger Thomas QC also heard how social services were alerted to potential problems at her house six months before police found five children living in "breathtakingly awful" conditions in her home as well as Hamzah's mummified remains.
The judge was told Hutton's eldest son Tariq, who was given a two year suspended prison sentence today for preventing his brother's lawful burial, told interviewing police that "if he said anything, she (Hutton) would kill the rest of the children".
The judge heard he later told probation officers his mother held a knife to the throat of one of the children two days after Hamzah's death.
He said Hutton also threatened to burn down the house.
Hutton, 43, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
She admitted neglecting five of her other children, aged between five and 13, who were living in the terrible conditions. Judge Thomas sentenced her to 12 years in prison for manslaughter and added three years for child cruelty.
She showed no emotion as she was led from the dock today, dressed in black and flanked by security guards.
Judge Thomas told her that her " wicked conduct" happened "through your purposeful, persistent and gross conduct in failing in that most basic and fundamental requirement that is upon every parent, to feed her child adequately."
He said it "beggars belief" that a child could starve to death in 21st century Britain.
The judge s aid: "The most telling and awful fact in this case that speaks volumes about how you starved Hamzah is that when his mummified remains were found, he was comfortably clothed in a baby-gro which was designed for a six to nine-month-old child.
"Moreover, he was found in a cot wearing, at the age of four and a half years, a nappy."
He said: "Your case, Amanda Hutton, has to be regarded as as bad a case of unlawful killing of a child by a parent as it is possible to imagine."
Hamzah's remains were only discovered due to a rookie police community support officer's tenacious pursuit of a minor anti-social behaviour complaint because she knew something was wrong.
Jodie Dunsmore, who is now a police officer, was in court today and was commended by the judge.
Following Pc Dunsmore's persistence, colleagues found Hamzah's remains amid scenes of utter squalor which the judge described as "a terrible Pandora's box".
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said: "Without her impressive efforts, one wonders what the position would be at (the house) today and, in particular, what the condition of the children, who have flourished since being removed from their mother, would have been."
It is understood Hamzah's body has not yet been buried as the legal process following his death continues.
A serious case review has been conducted into whether a range of professionals from all the main agencies could have spotted what was happening at Hutton's home in the Heaton area of Bradford.
But the judge said today: " I make it clear that this sentencing exercise is not an exercise in seeking to identify or explain how various agencies failed to identify and act upon the very long term and severe neglect that you visited upon your child and which went as far as you literally starving Hamzah to death."
New information emerged in court today about the family's contact with these agencies.
One of Hutton's neighbours alerted social services to her concerns about the family six months before Hamzah's body was found in a cot in Hutton's bedroom.
The woman, who cannot be named, set out her worries about the house next door in a text that talked about children crying and not being comforted, abuse being shouted, Hutton smelling of vodka, children never playing out and blinds always being down.
She finished her text explaining her actions to a friend by saying: "Better to be safe than sorry."
Mr Greaney said: "The history of what then occurred is complex. Social services, education services and the police were all involved to a greater or lesser extent.
"What is obvious is that their activities did not result in Hamzah's body being discovered or in the other children being rescued.
"All of that demands attention and explanation, and we understand that a Serious Case Review has been conducted and has concluded.
"What we must say, with a degree of regret, is that these criminal proceedings are not the forum for ventilating, still less resolving issues relating to the conduct of the bodies and agencies who had contact with or knowledge of problems with the Hutton family over the relevant period, both before and after Hamzah's death.
"Those are issues for other processes and in any event what is crucial to state is that, whatever was or was not done, should not detract from the shocking and disgraceful conduct of Amanda Hutton in relation to all six of her youngest children, which, of course included starving one of them to death.
"She killed Hamzah, no one else."
George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West, where Hutton lived, today condemned an email from the outgoing director of children's services in the city, Kath Tunstall, saying that "no serious concerns were reported to the statutory agencies".
Mr Galloway said he believed this was "in conflict with evidence which was given at the trial".
"But in any event it is deplorable that Ms Tunstall should try to wash her, and her department's hands, of any involvement or culpability in advance of the serious case review into what went wrong," he said.
"It's a clear attempt at pre-empting this inquiry (the serious case review)."
Mr Ralph Berry, Bradford Council's executive member for children's services, said: "It is ridiculous to suggest that a general briefing sent to MPs this morning is a 'clear attempt to pre-empt the forthcoming inquiry'."
He welcomed the serious case review and said it will be published after all court and other procedures are complete.