Mummified body of boy, 4, found in mum's bedroom two years after he died
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The mummified body of a four-year-old boy was found in a cot in his mother's bedroom almost two years after he starved to death, a jury has heard.
Hamzah Khan's body was still dressed in a baby-gro when police made the "dreadful discovery" at his house in Bradford, West Yorkshire, a court was told.
Details of how Hamzah's body was found in September 2011 were outlined when his mother Amanda Hutton went on trial at Bradford Crown Court today. Hutton, 43, denies her son's manslaughter.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Paul Greaney QC told the jury that Hamzah died when he was four-and-a-half years old on December 15 2009.
But the barrister said his remains were found 21 months later in clothing intended for a baby aged six to nine months. He said these clothes fitted him.
"Hamzah's growth had been stunted," Mr Greaney said.
"It had been stunted because he was malnourished over a lengthy period and that state of affairs resulted in his death.
"In short, he starved to death. How had a child starved to death in 21st century England?, he said.
"Amanda Hutton failed to provide her child with the nourishment that he needed to survive and, in so failing, she killed him."
Hutton watched the proceedings from the dock dressed in a black top, cardigan and skirt. She was flanked by one woman security officer.
Mr Greaney said Hamzah's body was found after police community support officer Jodie Worsley spoke to Hutton and became concerned about the smell coming from her house. Eventually, more police arrived and went into the property.
"What they discovered disturbed even hardened officers," he said. Mr Greaney said the officers were faced with "conditions of squalor".
He told the jury: "Furthermore, within a cot in the bedroom of Amanda Hutton, a police officer named Richard Dove made a dreadful discovery.
"Within that cot, beneath other items, he found the mummified corpse of a child.
"The prosecutor said Hutton was an abuser of alcohol and cannabis. Mr Greaney said the jury will have to consider whether Hamzah "became a secondary and less important consideration than those addictions".
He said the defendant worked as a care assistant in the past and there was evidence that she had undergone some first-aid training. Mr Greaney told the jury he expects Hutton's defence lawyers to argue that Hamzah's malnutrition could have arisen through "some naturally occurring condition".
He said the prosecution case was that Hutton was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence on two grounds - that she failed to feed him adequately and failed to seek medical assistance for him.
The jury heard that Hamzah's father, Aftab Khan, was separated from Hutton and lived elsewhere. Mr Greaney said there is evidence Mr Khan was violent towards the defendant.
The jury was told that Hutton ordered pizza within hours of her son's death and continued to claim child benefit for him. Mr Greaney said that in police interviews Hutton said Hamzah had become particularly unwell on December 14, 2009. She said the next day she went to a supermarket to consult a pharmacist but got a phone call to come home.
Mr Greaney said: "She explained that when she returned Hamzah was near to death. She sought to revive him but to no effect."
She described placing Hamzah into his cot, making plain that she had treated his body with dignity, and it is right that we should observe that when Hamzah's body was found, it was found with a teddy.
"Mr Greaney said Hutton told police that things deteriorated after her son's death and she began to drink a bottle of vodka a day.
The prosecutor told the jury: "She made no call for assistance - for a doctor or an ambulance.
"What did she do? Within hours she was ordering a pizza. So, no call for assistance but a call, or even calls, for pizza.
"Moreover, she thereafter continued to claim child benefit in respect of her dead son.
Mr Greaney said the jury will have to consider whether the pizza and the child benefit matters "demonstrate anything about her attitude towards Hamzah".
The jury of four women and eight men were shown pictures of the inside of Hutton's home.
The lounge was filled with rubbish including pizza boxes and empty bottles which was so deep the carpet was not visible. The kitchen floor was similarly covered in debris.
Mr Greaney said a consultant paediatrician and discovered that there was "a huge amount of rubbish, rotting matter, faeces and empty bottles."
Mr Greaney told the jury that a police officer said to Hutton "you know what's been found, don't you Amanda?" as the defendant was being taken to the police station. The prosecutor said Hutton told the officer: "He died two years ago on the 15th December."
He told the jury they will hear from a number of experts who have been working with police to try and work out what happened to Hamzah. He said Julie Roberts, a forensic anthropologist, concluded Hamzah's development "was comparable to a child aged between one year and 18 months."
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