South East Wales

Pontypridd baby Sunaria Hamid-Howells 'killed by parent'

Dilshad Hamid and Katherine Howells leave the coroner's court Image copyright BBC/WALES NEWS SERVICE
Image caption Parents Dilshad Hamid and Katherine Howells leave the coroner's court

A five-month-old girl who died after suffering a fractured skull was unlawfully killed by one of her parents, a coroner has concluded.

Sunaria Hamid-Howells, from Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff, died in 2012.

A neonatal expert suggested at a previous hearing it was unlikely her fall from a rocker chair four days earlier caused her fatal injuries.

Cardiff coroner Christopher Woolley said one of her parents, Dilshad Hamid or Katherine Howells, caused her death.

"This person, I find, was the person who picked Sunaria up on 30 December in the living room, shook her and inflicted head trauma on her," he added.

"One individual did the unlawful act, it's not possible on the evidence to determine if this person was Mr Hamid or Ms Howells, but it can only have been one of them."

He said the seriousness of Sunaria's injures would have been instantly obvious to the person who inflicted them upon her.

Earlier in the hearing, Sunaria's uncle urged the couple to admit who was responsible for her death.

Michael Howells said: "She was a beautiful little baby - the evidence suggests that either Katherine or Dilshad caused the injury that led to her death.

"One of you caused her death. Please, before we leave this court, my question is who caused her injuries - somebody is responsible for this."

Image copyright Mick Lobb/Geograph
Image caption Sunaria died at the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff on 31 December 2012

A post-mortem examination showed a brain injury occurred "around the time of collapse and likely to have been present for no more than 48 to 72 hours before death".

Mr Woolley revealed at Wednesday's hearing that South Wales Police had referred her death to the CPS, but the conclusion was there was no realistic prospect of conviction.

He said: "I was satisfied that there may be new information suggesting not only that a homicide may have taken place but that there may have been someone responsible for that homicide."

In bad-tempered exchanges during the hearing, Sunaria's father questioned Ms Howells about the events of 30 December 2012.

In response, she said Sunaria was "absolutely fine" when she put her in a basket before she heard her daughter make a "horrible, vile" noise "fluctuating in pitch as though as child was being shaken".

Denying any involvement in causing her injuries, Ms Howells said: "I wouldn't hurt my baby - I loved that little girl."

Mr Hamid called this a lie. He said Sunaria suffered a fit while he was bottle feeding her and did not make this noise.

When asked by Mr Woolley if he had ever hurt, dropped, shaken or hit his daughter, Mr Hamid said: "Of course not."

Image caption The inquest was held at Cardiff Coroner's Court

He also said he had no idea how Sunaria suffered a fractured leg which doctors believed was caused by a twisting motion.

Finishing his own evidence, he said: "I want to know what's going on, I want to know the truth. I've done nothing wrong with my baby apart from loving her, she was everything to me."

The inquest heard Ms Howells ran to a neighbour saying "there's something wrong with my baby". They called 999 and did chest compressions until paramedics arrived.

Sunaria was taken to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, near Llantrisant, where doctors discovered bruising and brown marks on her cheeks.

A CT scan showed a skull fracture and bleeding to the brain. She was transferred to Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales where she died the next day.

Doctors found the parents' explanation about previous falls "inadequate" to account for her severe head injury, bruising to her cheeks and marks on her arms.

Sunaria died as a result of brain swelling and a subdural haemorrhage.

Mr Woolley said: "It's clear to me neither [parent] has told the full truth about the injuries to Sunaria, I find the injuries were caused non-accidentally on 30 December 2012."

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