Nurse who force-fed her baby to death jailed for three years
Published 12/11/2011 | 09:33
A nurse was jailed for three years yesterday for killing her baby by force-feeding her in the first case of its kind in Britain.
Gloria Dwomoh (31) was found guilty at the Old Bailey last month of causing or allowing the death of 10-month-old Diamond.
She was said to be obsessed with Diamond's weight and poured liquidised food down her throat with a jug when she was weaning her.
Diamond died in March last year after being taken to a hospital near her home in Waltham Forest, east London.
A post-mortem examination found she died from pneumonia caused by food, including meat and cereals, in her lungs.
The prosecution said Diamond was forced to take her feed from the jug after the spout was placed in her mouth.
Trevor Burke QC, for Dwomoh, said: “She has endured the loss of her child for over a year. She has been punished enough.”
He presented the court with a 1,000-signature petition from her family and friends pleading for mercy, and asked the judge to impose a suspended sentence. But Judge Brian Barker described Dwomoh's actions as a “misguided obsession”.
Judge Barker said: “The forcing of food into your daughter against her natural instincts would have caused her daily distress.
“At best it was a misguided obsession — but a determined obsession — which must have caused daily prolonged distress to your daughter.
“It cannot be described as an act of kindness. It took away her life and that is something you must live with.”
He said the practice of feeding by pouring food from a cup or jug into a child's throat was culturally acceptable in some parts of the world.
“In this country the feeding of a child in this way, against its will, is wrong and dangerous,” said the judge.
Dwomoh, who had worked at St Thomas' Hospital in London, wept in court as she denied doing anything to harm her baby. She said that she and her siblings had been fed the same way by her mother in Ghana when she was weaning them on to solid food.
Dwomoh showed the jury two small china jugs, the size of cups, which she used for feeding. Diamond did not take to the bottle well and she was trying “to give her nutrients rather than milk”.
Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, said the food had “gone down the wrong way” over months after the child began coughing and choking.
Dwomoh (left) had been warned about the feeding method in the past but Diamond, although taken to see doctors, was not on the “at risk” register.
A detective in the case said: “She appeared to be obsessed with Diamond's weight and ignored advice she had been given.”
Social workers and health professionals apologised for not saving Diamond, the latest in a long line of children let down by professional carers.