Northern Ireland

Newtownabbey: Suspected murder 'left child with fractured skull'

Fernagh Drive
Image caption Nadia Zofia Kalinowska died in a house on Fernagh Drive, Newtownabbey

A five-year-old girl allegedly murdered by her parents suffered severe head and abdominal injuries, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

Nadia Zofia Kalinowska was discovered at the family's Newtownabbey home on 15 December 2019.

Prosecutors said examinations revealed evidence of multiple fractures at various stages of healing.

The child's mother, Aleksandra Wahab, 26, and stepfather, Abdul Wahab, 31, mounted applications for bail.

The couple are currently in custody jointly charged with her murder.

They also face counts of causing or allowing the death of a child, and grievous bodily harm with intent to the little girl over a year-long period.

Image caption A tribute to Nadia Zofia Kalinowska

The husband and wife, originally from Pakistan and Poland respectively, emphatically deny all charges against them.

They claim Nadia sustained the fatal injuries when she fell down a flight of stairs at their Fernagh Drive address in the middle of the night.

Paramedics went to the house after receiving a 999 call that she was unconscious.

Nadia's mother reported hearing a bang, finding her at the bottom of the stairs and alerting her husband who then performed CPR, the court heard.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Nadia's mother and father appeared at Laganside courts on Tuesday

Crown lawyer Fiona O'Kane confirmed the cause of death was head and abdominal injuries.

She said X-rays and post-mortem examinations established severe fracturing to the skull and a bleed over the entire surface of the brain.

Other fractures were found on various parts of the body, some older than others, it was contended.

Based on medical opinion, Mrs O'Kane claimed the fatal injuries were beyond those caused by a fall down stairs.

"The head and abdominal (injuries), some of those would normally be exerted in road traffic-type forces," she said.

Image caption The court heard Nadia had severe injuries

Mr Justice Horner was told the two accused had met online, with Aleksandra Wahab then converting to Islam from Catholicism to marry her husband under Sharia law.

The couple, who also have a two-year-old son, initially did not speak the same language and lived in the Republic of Ireland before moving to Newtownabbey.

It emerged during the hearing that Mrs Wahab is now pregnant again.

Her barrister, Gavyn Cairns, insisted there is no evidence Nadia suffered any non-accidental injuries.

The judge responded: "There was severe laceration to the liver consistent with being struck with a blunt instrument, and the brain shows old and new injuries consistent with being struck."

But Mr Cairns argued that school staff recalled her being a happy girl who was prone to falling over and bumping into things in the playground.

Disputing the prosecution allegations, counsel said: "The common thread running through all their evidence is this was a very clumsy child."

With a final pathologist report potentially up to a year away, the defendants are seeking release at this stage.

Adjourning their bail applications, however, Mr Justice Horner directed that all interim findings, scans and X-rays must be handed over first.

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