A teen mother broke down in tears today as she was jailed for nine years after leaving her baby to starve to death while she went partying for six days to celebrate her 18th birthday.
Verphy Kudi went to a 1990s music concert in Elephant and Castle and even had a DJ announce her birthday during her days-long jaunt away from home, a court heard.
All the while her 20-month-old daughter, Asiah, was alone in her flat in a ‘supported housing’ block in Brighton more than 50 miles away.
When paramedics were finally called to the flat on December 11, 2019 after Kudi had returned, they found her ‘incoherent, distressed and distraught’ and her daughter lying on the floor.
Kudi, now 19, today appeared in the dock at Lewes Crown Court on Friday for sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
She broke down in tears as she was jailed for nine years and taken away by court staff.
Judge Laing said the baby had gone through ‘almost unimaginable suffering’ before dying alone in the flat.
She added: ‘She was a helpless young child and relied completely on you as her mother to proved for her needs.’
She told her Kudi ‘grossly abused her trust’ and had prioritised her desire to ‘celebrate your birthday and the birthday of friends’ rather than the needs of her child.
Verphy Kudi went to a 1990s music concert in Elephant and Castle and even had a DJ announce her birthday during her days-long jaunt away from home, a court heard
Wearing a black jacket and a face mask, Kudi bowed her head as details of the final days of her daughter’s life were read out in the courtroom.
Prosecutor Sally Howes QC said CCTV covering Kudi’s home showed that she had left Asiah alone in the flat for five days, 21 hours and 58 minutes.
Kudi left Brighton on December 5 and went to London where she spent her birthday with her boyfriend.
On December 7 she attended a concert in Elephant and Castle and stayed out until 4am.
On December 9 she moved on to a birthday party in Coventry – 150 miles from Brighton – before returning to London the next day and then home to East Sussex on December 11.
Kudi returned to the flat at 3.38pm on December 11 but did not call emergency services for more than two hours.
In that time she was seen emptying bags into a communal bin area before going back to her flat.
She eventually dialled 999 and told the call handler after her daughter was ‘not waking up’.
She told paramedics Asiah had been sleeping all day she had given her milk and Calpol and let her sleep.
Ambulance staff arrived at Kudi’s Brighton flat and Asiah was taken to the city’s Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital but was confirmed dead on arrival.
Kudi broke down in tears as she was jailed for nine years and taken away by court staff
Peter Wilcock QC, defending Kudi, said it is ‘truly a tragic and devastating case’.
He added: ‘She herself, the defendant, is both very young and we would submit very vulnerable.’
Mr Wilcock cited her young age at the time of the offence and her history of vulnerability, as well as the effects any sentence will have on her going forward.
Sentencing Kudi, Judge Christine Laing QC said: ‘Asiah was alone in that flat for six days – less two hours – unable to do anything to draw attention to her plight.
‘She was a helpless child and relied completely on you as her mother to provide for her needs.
‘It is almost unbearable to contemplate her suffering in the final days of her life, suffering that she endured so that you could celebrate your birthday and the birthdays of your friends as a carefree teenager.’
‘It goes without saying that this is a particularly tragic case and it no doubt raises strong emotions in all who hear of it, but everyone should bear in mind that the charge I sentence you for is one of manslaughter, it being accepted that you did not intend to cause Asiah death nor to cause her really serious harm.’
Judge Laing QC branded Kudi ‘deceitful and manipulative’ and added: ‘You knew full well you should not be doing what you were doing.
‘It is a particularly distressing aspect of this case that it is unlikely she would have cried for any time because she had learned on may occasions there would have ben no response.’
It had been previously been revealed Kudi tried to sell concert tickets on Twitter on the day the baby’s body was found.
Another tweet showed her attempting to become a Pretty Little Thing model months after Asiah’s death.
The court heard that Kudi had been a happy girl growing up a whose laughter would light up the whole house.’
But from the age of 14 she became withdrawn and began truanting from school and going missing from home.
Social services stepped in and she was assigned a social worker and moved to a placement at a safe house in Norfolk.
But there were concerns she had become involved in child sexual exploitation and she fell pregnant and moved back to Brighton.
She was moved in with foster carers and Asiah was born on March 22, 2018 and was immediately placed on a child protection plan – though there was no social worker assigned to her when she died.
They went to live with Kudi’s mother Asiah Batrane but three months before the tragedy – in September 2019 – Kudi and Asiah were moved by the council to a flat in a sheltered residential block for vulnerable families.
She was one of eight young people living in a flat in the complex run by charity YMCA DownsLink on behalf of Brighton City Council.
The flats are independent units and staff do not enter the living areas or carry out regular inspections, but there are members of staff located in a reception entrance to the block 24 hours a day.
YMCA Downslink offers a ‘medium to low’ level of support for families, with all flats self-contained with their own kitchen, space for staff on duty, and a communal area for group activities.
Kudi settled in well in the flat but the court heard she began to abandon her daughter alone in the flat to meet up with friends and go out to parties.
In the three months leading up to her death there were at least six other occasions she left Asiah alone in the flat – once for two whole days.
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.’
The Brighton and Hove Safeguarding Children Partnership (BHSCP) is carrying out a Child Safeguarding Practice Review (CSPR) of this case, which they aim to publish later this year. Sussex Police like all agencies concerned, are fully participating in that Review.
Libby Clark of the CPS said: ‘This has been a deeply harrowing case involving the death of a 20-month-old baby.
‘Asiah’s mother Verphy Kudi had a duty to keep her safe from harm, but instead selfishly chose to put her own need to party and be with her friends above all else.
‘The consequences of her decision meant that Asiah must have suffered dreadfully during the days and nights that she was alone in the flat.
‘This follows a history of multiple earlier occasions of abandonment and neglect.’
In the three months leading up to her death there were at least six other occasions she left Asiah alone in the flat (pictured in an undated photo) – once for two whole days
A spokesman for YMCA Downslink said: ‘The conclusion of the court hearing and sentencing of Verphy Kudi for the death of her daughter, Asiah, brings an element of closure to this tragic event. Verphy Kudi’s actions shocked us all.
‘Verphy Kudi misled staff into believing Asiah was with her whilst she was away celebrating her 18thbirthday. Tragically, neither our staff nor other residents heard anything to alert them to the fact that Asiah had been left in the flat alone and this continues to impact them deeply.
‘In court, it was stated that it is unlikely that Asiah would have called out due to a combination of learnt behaviour, and, her underlying influenza. Today, our thoughts and sympathies lie with Asiah, her wider family, and everyone affected by this awful event.
‘We are working with the other agencies involved in the ongoing Child Safeguarding Practice Review to fully understand the circumstances that led to this tragic incident. We will not be making any further comment until we have the outcome of that review.’
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 intervention can be made.’