Nine years in jail for mother who left toddler daughter to starve to death while she partied

Posted On 06 Aug 2021 at 12:56 pm

Verphy Kudi with Asiah on the tot’s first birthday in 2019


A Brighton mother who abandoned her toddler daughter at home alone to starve to death while she partied up and down the country for a week has been jailed for nine years.

Verphy Kudi abandoned 14-month-old Asiah on her 18th birthday in December 2019 for six days of partying with her boyfriend Daniel in London, and Coventry – the last of a string of occasions where she had left the tot alone for long periods of time.

She lied to her friends, telling them her mother was looking after the little girl – while telling her mother she was too ill to attend a family meal at Brighton Marina. She even turned down a friend’s offer to babysit on the evening of her birthday.

When she eventually returned home, she waited three hours before calling 999 – during which time she was seen placing items in the bin at the supported housing in Gochers Court, Islingword Road, where they lived.

Prosecuting, Sally Howes said that after Kudi called 999 at about 6pm after returning on December 11, paramedics found Asiah unresponsive and cold to the touch – and Kudi hysterical and incoherent.

She told them – and later doctors and the police – that Asiah had been unwell all day, that she had given her milk and a banana at midday, she had fallen asleep and had not woken again.

Sentencing, Judge Christine Laing said: “These various accounts were all lies . . . Asiah was alone in that flat for six days, less two hours, unable to do anything to draw attention to her plight.

“It’s a particularly distressing aspect of this case that in the opinion of Dr Cleghorn, it’s unlikely that Asiah would have cried for any length of time because she had already learnt that in many occasions there was unlikely to be a response.

“And when her suffering became too great, she would not have had the strength to cry.”

She only abandoned this story a few days later when police confronted her with CCTV evidence showing she had left the flat alone on 5 December and not returned until three hours before the 999 call was made six days later.

A further trawl of CCTV evidence showed Kudi had left Asiah alone several times before, including five extended periods.

The most lengthy was two and a half days in late October, when she had travelled to London for her friend’s birthday.

Judge Laing said: “It’s quite clear to me that the trigger event for your abandoning your child was not stress but a desire to celebrate your birthday and the birthdays of other friends and you simply chose to prioritise your desires over the needs of your child.

“Your accommodation provided support and you had key workers and a social worker who you could have spoken to if you were unable to cope.

“I have no doubt that you didn’t tell any of them what you were planning because they would have told you to leave Asiah with someone overnight, and as she was at a very young age it should only be overnight.

“Gochers Court had seen you leaving for a short time to smoke a cigarette, and the risks had been explained to you and you told them that you would not do that again.

“Another resident, Elle Murphy, had offered to look after Asiah for you for your birthday, something she had done before, and you told her your mother was looking after her.

“You repeatedly insisted to people you were capable of looking after Asiah and I have no doubt that was what you wanted to believe.

“You also wanted it both ways and your desire to have the life of an 18-year-old, partying and going to gigs without the encumbrance of looking after a baby, won out.

“It’s very clear to the court that you could be very deceitful and manipulative when you wanted to get your way.

“It’s abundantly clear from the lies that you told that you knew you should not have left Asiah alone.”

The court was also read excerpts from messages between Kudi and her friends, many of them students, who were completely unaware she had been abandoning Asiah to come out with them.

In these chats, she would rarely refer to Asiah, except when asked if she was with Kudi’s mother or a babysitter, when Kudi would always say yes.

One of the only times she did talk about her daughter was in the three hours between her returning home and calling 999, when she told friends she was concerned that Asiah was unwell.

During her days away, friends said she seemed fine and up for having fun – other than the final day, when she became hysterical and told them it was because Asiah was not used to her being away for so long.

Defending, Peter Wilcock said Kudi had a troubled childhood, and referred Judge Laing to reports which said she had an emerging personality disorder.

The court was told Kudi had witnessed domestic violence as a young child, and as a teenager had been the victim of child sexual exploitation.

It was while she was in special accommodation in Kent in a bid to get her away from this that she became pregnant, aged just 16.

Mr Wilcock also said that her age meant a prison sentence would be particularly difficult, adding: “The sentence will not be an easy one for her given the nature of the offence.”

A safeguarding review has been launched to investigate how Asiah, who had been left alone on 11 previous occasions, slipped through the net.

When Kudi pleaded guilty to manslaughter in March, YMCA Downslink, which has been running the supported housing at Gochers Court since September 2019, said the absences had only come to light after police examined CCTV following Asiah’s death.

It also said that social services had been informed of the safeguarding incident in mid-October. Brighton and Hove City Council last month said Asiah that did not have a social worker and was not on a child protection plan when she died.

Ms Howes told the court that the foster parent who Kudi had been placed with said that when Asiah was first born, she was an attentive and caring mother.

But Amanda Dicks had raised concerns that when Kudi came to start taking the baby out by herself, she had become unreliable, changing her plans and staying out later than she had agreed.

When Asiah was about six months old, Kudi moved in with her mother. A few months later, Kudi told her social worker that she wanted to live on her own, and she helped her apply for a place at Gochers Court.

Senior Investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Andy Wolstenholme said: “This was a particularly distressing case for my team and me to investigate, and has caused great sorrow amongst Verphy’s family and the many agencies that have supported Verphy and Asiah.

“In pleading guilty, Ms Kudi accepted the terrible judgements she made in leaving her child alone and unprotected for such a protracted period, and accepts the lies she told to friends, family and professionals to cover up her neglect of her daughter and in order to avoid being caught.

“I hope Verphy’s acceptance will help the rest of her family to grieve the terrible loss of Asiah. Sussex Police will always go the extra mile to investigate offending against children and all vulnerable people, as well as supporting their families and friends. I would always urge anyone who has concerns for the wellbeing of a child, or vulnerable adult, to contact the relevant authorities as early as possible, so that supportive interventions can be made.”

In a statement, Asiah and Verphy’s family have said: “We are saddened by the current situation and as a family we have many unanswered questions. Verphy has experienced so much at such a young age and we have always done what we can to support her.

“As a family we are in the midst of an unbearable tragedy. Not only are we coming to terms with what has happened today but we are also still grieving for our beloved Asiah. We would be grateful if our privacy can be respected at this moment.”

More follows.

  1. Nigel Adams Reply

    Think she got off lightly when you think of the suffering the poor little girl had.

  2. RL Reply

    Absolutely disgusting sentence. She murdered her daughter and she’ll be out partying again in 4 years and probably popping out another unwanted child. She should spend the rest of her life in jail.

  3. Lee Reply

    So that’s what a child’s life is worth these days-nine years. Think about it.

  4. Amber Millington Reply

    Disgusting. It’s a shame we don’t have death penalty anymore. I hope they give her a terrible time in prison.

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