Blackburn parents guilty of baby girl cruelty

Mohammed and Nafisa Karolia
Image caption Mohammed and Nafisa Karolia had denied a charge of child cruelty

A couple have been convicted of child cruelty towards one of their twin baby girls who later died.

Mohammed and Nafisa Karolia, of Meadow Close, Blackburn, denied abusing the seven-month-old, who died in June 2009.

Preston Crown Court heard how they tried to cover up the baby's injuries to social services by swapping her identity with that of her sister.

The judge warned them that they could face considerable jail terms when they are sentenced in October.

The couple's injured daughter was rushed to the Royal Blackburn Hospital after they reported she had breathing difficulties and died soon after.

She was found to have suffered numerous injuries, including fractures to the ribs, legs and arms, and skull damage affecting the brain and central nervous system, the prosecution said.

The victim's nasal injuries were particularly "unusual" with damaged tissue suggesting her nose had been pinched with equal force on both sides by a clasp or clip.

Joe Boyd, prosecuting, said the Crown did not seek to prove any maltreatment by the parents caused the baby's death but said they had never provided a plausible explanation for the injuries.

Mrs Karolia, 22, told police she noticed nothing unusual about her daughter apart from a runny nose.

Her taxi driver husband, 29, told officers his wife was the principal carer of the twins and he agreed that the only thing their daughter had was a runny nose, the court heard.

The court heard that when the baby arrived at the hospital, she was described by her parents to doctors as being the healthier and smaller of the identical twins.

However, prosecutors said the girl that died was actually the bigger of the two twins, known in court as Twin M and Twin A for legal reasons.

Joe Boyd, prosecuting, said: "The living twin's progress is consistent with that of Girl A, while the dead twin's progress corresponds to Girl M.

"Growth charts for both twins make it clear that the parents have at some stage swapped the babies. They have very probably done so to seek to conceal the mounting injuries being suffered by the child who died - always the bigger twin but, for some reason, rejected and abused by them."

'Bestial crime'

The couple denied any swapping had taken place and the jury was told it did not have to believe the twin swap theory to return guilty verdicts.

Det Insp Pete Broome, of Lancashire Police, said: "I can only describe this as a bestial crime - that is what they are, beastly.

"The only two people who know if these babies were swapped over are the parents. Therein lies some of the worst aspects of this case because the surviving twin may never know who she really was at birth."

He added: "That must be the most corrosive aspect to come out of this case.

"The prospect of not doing anything to an injury like that to a child's nose is abhorrent and I cannot understand anybody worthy of the name parents could leave a child suffering in that manner."

Mr Justice Irwin adjourned the case for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports on the couple.

He added: "As you know, this was a bad case of child cruelty.

"However, I want to know as much as possible about it before deciding the length of sentence."

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