How could little boy's mummified body lie undiscovered in his home for TWO years? As alcoholic mother is found guilty of starving son aged 4 to death, shocking failures of social workers, police, NHS and teachers are revealed
- Amanda Hutton found guilty of the manslaughter of her four-year-old son
- Police found Hamzah Khan's mummified remains in a cot with a teddy
- Jury had been told told Hamzah most probably died from malnutrition
- Det Supt Lisa Griffin says case was worst she had seen in 28 years service
- Services attended Hutton's home numerous times over the years
- Now all blaming each other for failing to spot the tell-tale signs
By CHRIS BROOKE
Guilty: Amanda Hutton at court yesterday where she was found guilty of starving her child to death
A four-year-old boy who starved to death had become ‘invisible to society’ through the failings of social services, charities said last night.
The mummified body of Hamzah Khan was found by police at his family home nearly two years after he died from malnutrition.
He had suffered years of shocking neglect and was so malnourished that he was wearing clothing for a six- to nine-month-old child when he died.
Yesterday, as his mother was convicted of starving him to death, charities demanded to know how he had ‘disappeared off the radar of his community and services’.
Social services, police, health workers and teachers were all in regular contact with mother-of-eight Amanda Hutton, 43, an alcoholic and cannabis addict.
They held two ‘multi-agency risk assessment conferences’ about the family in the 18 months before Hamzah’s death on December 15, 2009.
But the agencies were so focused on helping Hutton – believing she was a victim of domestic abuse – that they were oblivious to the threat she posed to her son and the other five young children living in the home.
All the main public agencies have serious questions to answer over Hamzah’s death and the failure to discover his fate until September 2011.
From the age of two weeks, Hamzah was never seen by a nurse or doctor and never immunised.
When his mother repeatedly missed appointments for her son, instead of prompting concern, this simply led the health centre to remove them from its patients’ list – a practice which is now being examined over fears that it allows children to ‘sink further below the radar’.
Police officers also had opportunities to intervene.
They attended domestic violence incidents at the family home eight times in four-and-a-half years.
And when Hutton’s partner Aftab Khan, the father of her children, was arrested for assaulting her in December 2008, he warned officers his son was undernourished, neglected and should be seen by a doctor.
But police saw nothing to alarm them about Hamzah’s welfare.
Hamzah was also seen several times by social services, but was deemed to be ‘well cared for’ when he was visited as a toddler at the family home in Bradford.
The little boy had been due to start school three months before he died. His siblings at the school regularly failed to attend or were in a terrible physical state.
Shocking: Hamzah's decomposed body was found in his mother's home two years after he died in 2009
Review: Social services, health workers, police and teachers were all in regular contact with the family
But although a concerned health visitor contacted the local primary school about Hamzah’s failure to attend, the alarm wasn’t raised.
As a result he lay dead for two years before his decomposed remains were found by police in September 2011, when he would have been six.
When the authorities asked where he was, family members said he was visiting relatives in Portsmouth – an excuse which appears to have been accepted without question.
The defendant’s father, Alan Hutton, hit out at social services after the case.
Abusive: Social services and police saw Hutton as an abuse victim. They failed to notice her own actions
Alcoholic: Hutton was so drunk she could stand when she was brought into custody on 21 September 2011
Dreadful: The cannabis addict has five school-aged children that lived with her in squalor of drugs and alcohol
He told the Mail: ‘They should have intervened. There was an apathy there.’
Police also appeared to try to shift the blame on to Bradford social workers.
Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin, of West Yorkshire Police, said: ‘Each time we engaged with Amanda, we referred the matter through to the social services department.’
She said when officers dealt with the incidents of domestic violence, there were no concerns raised about Hamzah.
Commenting on a ‘welfare check’ made by an officer at the house eight months before Hamzah died, she said: ‘The home environment appeared perfectly adequate.
This is the home in which little Hamzah spent his short life before mother Hutton let him starve to death
‘That said, police officers are not health professionals, they make an assessment based on their own professional judgment and there were no concerns at that time.’
She blamed Hutton for refusing to co-operate with professionals.
‘As a mother myself I find it appalling that she should have allowed this set of circumstances to play out as it did and for that poor child to suffer in the way that he clearly did.’
Social services hit back by stressing Hamzah was never ‘referred’ to them and police simply ‘notified’ them of domestic abuse incidents.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: ‘It is self-evident that something went seriously wrong for this child.
'It appears Hamzah disappeared off the radar of his community and services, and a full picture of the horror that was his life emerged two years too late.’
Avoidable: Aftab Khan (right), Hamzah's father who was convicted of beating Hutton in 2008, said he told police of the neglect and state of their home years ago. But they let Hutton (left) continue her antics under the radar
In court: Amanda Hutton in the witness box being questioned by prosecutor Mr Greade. She admitted to cruelty to her other children and failing to bury Hamzah. The jury deliberated for five hours before returning the verdict
Controversy: The case has sparked a war of words between services as they cast off the blame on each other
A serious case review, examining the role of all the agencies involved with the case, will be published later.
Mohammad Shabbir, the local city councillor, said the agencies should take a ‘collective responsibility to protect vulnerable people’.
He added: ‘Concerns should be followed through to the end. In this case the end was the tragic loss of a life.’
Complicit: Hutton's other son, Tariq Khan, 24, is pictured here entering Bradford Crown Court before he is charged with one count of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body. He will be sentenced today
PC Jodie Dunsmore of West Yorkshire Police who repeatedly visited the home of manslaughter convict Hutton
Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children, said: ‘Hamzah’s death is a dreadful tragedy which has shocked and appalled local people.
'We welcome the serious case review and its public examination of the circumstances of Hamzah’s death.’
Hutton admitted child cruelty against her other five young children and also to failing to lawfully bury Hamzah’s body.
Her eldest son Tariq Khan, 24, admitted the burial charge and both will be sentenced today.
Hutton showed no emotion as a jury found her guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence at Bradford Crown Court. She was remanded in custody.
Children crawled through the waste in dirty nappies
Piled high with rubbish, this is the house of squalor where the mummified body of a four-year-old boy was found in his cot.
It is barely believable that a family in 21st century Britain could live in such horrific conditions. Almost every room was littered with plastic bags of household rubbish, bottles, filthy nappies, newspapers, vomit and mouldy food.
In the living room it was waist-high; the kitchen was in a similar state, and even the bath had cat faeces in it.
Malnourished and neglected: This is the babygrow Hamzah was found in after he died aged 24 months
Somehow jobless Amanda Hutton, 43, lived in this terrace house in Heaton, Bradford, with her eight children.
'She’s a bitter and twisted woman and there’s something seriously wrong with her'
- Aftab Khan, Hamzah's father
The only room which was not in this truly horrific condition was Hutton’s bedroom. But for almost two years that room contained a terrible secret.
Hidden in a travel cot, beneath clothes, shoes and bedding, was the body of Hamzah Khan. The little boy had been starved to death by his cruel alcoholic and cannabis-addicted mother.
He wasted away to such an extent that when he died he was wearing baby clothes of a six to nine-month-old baby. Fed on just a banana and some milk a day, he scavenged around for scraps.
So horrid were the facts of this case that the original jury at Bradford Crown Court were discharged because one juror was overwhelmed with emotion after a few minutes.
Hutton, pictured 14 years ago, didn't report Hamzah's death as she feared she would lose her other children
Convicted: Hutton was 16 when she met 18-year-old Aftab Khan outside a club and became pregnant soon after
Judge Roger Thomas, QC, told the trial that when police walked into the house and found the body in September 2011 they opened a ‘terrible Pandora’s box’.
The smell was gut-wrenching and dead flies were seen all over the windowsill.
When Hutton answered the door, there were flies buzzing around her head.
A hardened police officer who searched the house had to walk outside in revulsion.
There were five children aged between five and 13 living there and the youngest ones were crawling through the waste in dirty nappies.
Hutton told police how she had gone to the supermarket in December 2009, and received a call from her oldest son Tariq, 24, that Hamzah’s eyes were ‘rolling to the back of his head’.
Hallway: Dr Pepper bottles, food packets, alcohol, clothes, moth-eaten toys and stains cover the floor and walls
She returned home to find Hamzah dead. Hutton said she held her son for hours before placing him back in his travel cot.
Astonishingly she didn’t call the emergency services and carried on with her life as if nothing had happened – even continuing to claim Hamzah’s child benefit. Tariq, too, kept the secret.
Hutton spent her days drinking bottles of vodka, rarely venturing out.
Her young children had to fend for themselves while she drank ‘more vodka than water’.
They were told that if anyone asked, they were to say Hamzah had moved to live with relatives in Portsmouth.
As the months passed no one reported Hamzah missing or feared for his safety.
It was as if this waif-like boy had never existed.
Kitchen: Rubbish was piled high all over Hutton's home. Bottles of spirits cover every inch of the kitchen top
People in the neighbourhood were oblivious to what was happening inside the house. Some had never seen Hamzah and didn’t realise some of the children existed.
But Hutton was also so cut off from relatives that her father didn’t know Hamzah had been born.
Alan Hutton, a phone installation engineer living in the Scottish Borders, said he was ashamed of his wayward daughter and they lost touch a decade ago.
'What she has done is evil,’ he said.
'What kind of mother starves her own child to death? Can she even be a part of the human race? He died all on his own, a painful death.
'Social services should have taken him away. They should have intervened. There was an apathy there.
'It is better to do too much than too little. They let him down.
'She had been living like that for years, this was not something that happened overnight. That poor little boy could have been saved, but nobody did anything to help him.'
Living room: The floors were covered in rubbish and mouldy food that the children were forced to crawl through
Mr Hutton’s marriage broke down when his daughter was a rebellious teenager who regular smoked cannabis and she was soon living independently.
At 16, Hutton met 18-year-old Aftab Khan outside a nightclub in Bradford. She became pregnant in her teens with Tariq.
Khan worked as a mechanic and taxi driver. Hutton briefly worked as a care assistant, but primarily she looked after her children.
The court heard she was beaten by Khan throughout the 20-year relationship.
Her personal problems worsened dramatically a few months after Hamzah was born when Hutton’s mother Ann died from breast cancer in December 2005, leaving her heartbroken.
She was on anti-depressants for post-natal depression and turned increasingly to alcohol.
Police were regularly called to the house, but Hutton refused to make a complaint against her violent partner. She changed her mind and they finally split up in December 2008 after Khan attacked Tariq.
Khan was later convicted of beating Hutton.
During police interviews, he told officers: 'She’s a bitter and twisted woman and there’s something seriously wrong with her. She don’t brush her teeth, she don’t clean herself, she don’t look after herself. She’s an alcoholic.'