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Baby who died after fracturing skull was unlawfully killed by one of her parents

Sunaria Hamid-Howells died from her injuries after being taken to hospital

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Dilshad Hamid and Katherine Howells (Image: Johanna Carr/PA/Wales News Service)

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A baby who died after fracturing her skull was unlawfully killed by one of her parents, an inquest has concluded.

But there there will be no prosecutions over the death of a five-month-old baby who died after suffering a fractured skull, the hearing in Cardiff was told.

Coroner Christopher Woolley ruled that there was not enough evidence to determine which parent had been responsible.

Little Sunaria Hamid-Howells – aged five months – was rushed to hospital from her home in Pontypridd on December 30 2012, but died from her injuries.

After being taken first to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, she was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit at the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff.

In 2015 an inquest at Cardiff Coroner’s Court was adjourned after evidence from the baby’s mother, Katherine Howells, about finding her not breathing properly while in the arms of her father, Dilshad Hamid.

Five-month-old baby died after suffering fractured skull and bleeding on the brain, inquest told

During the inquest, her parents denied in evidence that they had harmed Sunaria, saying that they had loved their daughter.

After hearing the former couple accuse each other of harming the baby, Sunaria’s uncle and Ms Howell’s brother, Michael Howells, said she had been a “beautiful little baby”.

“The evidence suggests that either Katherine or Dilshad caused the injuries,” he said.

“One of you caused her death.

“Please, before we leave this court today, please one of you stick your hand up.

“As Sunaria’s uncle, I have got to know. It is just unacceptable.”

Coroner Christopher Woolley said: “On October 23 2015, I adjourned this inquest and referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions because after hearing the evidence of Katherine Hamid-Howells.

“I was satisfied that there maybe new information suggesting not only that a homicide may have taken place but that there may have been someone responsible for that homicide.”

He said the conclusion from prosecutors was that there was no realistic prospect of conviction.

Mr Woolley, who said he would now proceed with the inquest, outlined the evidence given by Ms Hamid-Howells on the previous occasion.

Dilshan Hamid speaking to the media outside Cardiff Coroner’s Court, where he and Katherine Howells heard that their five-month-old daughter died after suffering a ‘non-accidental’ skull fracture (Image: Johanna Carr/PA)
Katherine Howells (Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)

He said: “I was asking you about the events of December 30 2012.

“You said you were cleaning the bathroom floor and you heard a really disturbing cry ‘not a cry I have heard before; it’s still in my head’.”

Mr Hamid told the inquest he was giving Sunaria a bottle at around 5pm on December 30 when her arms began shaking and she went limp.

Paramedics were called and Sunaria was rushed initially to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital but was then taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, to the paediatric intensive care unit.

Outlining the evidence given by Ms Howells on the previous occasion, Mr Woolley said she had been cleaning the bathroom floor when she heard a “really disturbing cry”.

He said: “You said ‘not a cry I have heard before; it’s still in my head’.”

Mr Woolley said Ms Howells said she heard Mr Hamid sounding “panicky” and saying “lovely, lovely, lovely” and then heard a sound like Sunaria’s head going back and forward.

Ms Howells told the inquest she remembered seeing Sunaria in Mr Hamid’s arms “not breathing properly”.

Questioning her, Mr Hamid, who told the coroner he had never harmed Sunaria during her short life, said: “What happened to my baby?”

In a heated exchange, Ms Howells said Sunaria was “absolutely fine” when she had put her down in her basket.

She said: “I would not hurt my baby – I loved that little girl.”

The inquest heard Sunaria had been taken to hospital with a rash on two occasions and had suffered a fractured leg at some point between November 8 2012 and Christmas Day.

A friend of Ms Howells also found a lump on her head on Boxing Day.

The inquest heard Ms Howells told police that Sunaria had been dropped during a trip to Bluestone Resort in Pembrokeshire in November, had fallen from the sofa twice and had fallen from her rocker on Christmas Day on to carpet and had a “soft landing”.

Mr Woolley said doctors told the inquest that none of these incidents could explain the severity of the injuries found when she was admitted to hospital on December 30.

He said doctors subsequently found evidence of an old subdural haematoma – bleeding on the brain – which had happened several weeks before her death and a new subdural haematoma which happened 24 to 48 hours prior to her death and was “consistent with a recent non-accidental head injury”.

Mr Hamid said he was born in Iraq and his language was Kurdistani.

He came to the UK in 2008 as an asylum seeker and had since been granted temporary leave to remain, he said.

Mr Hamid, who attended the hearing with his wife, said he met Ms Howells in 2009 and moved in with her in a flat in Cardiff later that year.

They moved to her family home in Pontypridd after her parents died and she became pregnant.

Mr Hamid said he “slept most of the day” on December 30 as it was a day off but woke up when Ms Howells told him dinner was nearly ready and asked him to feed Sunaria, who he said meant “everything to me”.

It was then that she went limp, he said.

Mr Woolley asked if Mr Hamid had ever harmed, shaken or dropped Sunaria or twisted her limbs.

Mr Hamid said: “Of course not,” and added that he had not seen anyone else hurt her.

At the end of his evidence he said: “I want to know what is going on. I want the truth.

“I want to know what has happened. I have never done anything wrong with my baby except loving her.”

Mr Woolley asked Ms Howells if she had any questions for her former partner but she said: “No, because he will just lie.”

Statements given by friends of Ms Howells described her as a cautious and attentive mother and Sunaria as a “happy and contented baby”.

Mr Woolley concluded that Sunaria was unlawfully killed by one of her parents but it was not possible to determine which one.

He found that Sunaria’s injuries were caused by “excessive shaking” and the “injuries caused by this unlawful act were sufficient to cause her death”.

Mr Woolley said: “One person did the unlawful act. It is not possible on the evidence to determine whether this person was Ms Howells or Mr Hamid but I find that it could only have been one of them.”

He also determined that a number of the other previous injuries were non-accidental.

“None of the previous injuries in themselves or put together would have caused her death,” he said.

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