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Baby girl, 1, starved to death while her teen mother partied for six days, inquest hears

An inquest into the death of an 20-month-old baby who was left alone at least a dozen times by her teenage mother found she starved to death and heard how social workers had ‘concerns’ for the child.

A pre inquest hearing heard Assistant Coroner Karen Henderson will focus her inquiry into who was responsible for mother Verphy Kudi and her daughter Asiah over the course of her short life. 

Verphy Kudi walked out on her daughter to go on a six-day trip to celebrate her 18th birthday.

She admitted manslaughter and was jailed for nine years after a court heard her daughter learned nobody would come when she cried and went through ‘unimaginable suffering’.

Kudi, now 19, tried to cover up her crime after returning home to find her daughter dead and stiff with rigor mortis.

She spent nearly three hours with her dead baby in their Brighton YMCA flat before dealing 999.

Verphy Kudi walked out on her daughter on a six-day trip to celebrate her 18th birthday and came home to find her dead and stiff with rigor mortis (pictured together)

Kudi is seen in handcuffs outside Lewes Crown Court, where she was remanded in custody after pleading guilty to manslaughter

Kudi is seen in handcuffs outside Lewes Crown Court, where she was remanded in custody after pleading guilty to manslaughter 

A post-mortem examination and forensic tests found that Asiah starved, was dehydrated and developed flu. Her cause of death was given as neglect

A post-mortem examination and forensic tests found that Asiah starved, was dehydrated and developed flu. Her cause of death was given as neglect 

Asiah was taken to Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton where she was pronounced dead on December 11, 2019 after being left alone by her mother for nearly six days.

The inquest would be a fearless examination of the circumstances surrounding her death, Mrs Henderson said.

‘What I’m concerned about is the care that Asiah had during her short life,’ the coroner said.

‘There were concerns she was leaving her for periods of time,’ the coroner said.

The inquest will examine the support she was offered by Brighton and Hove City Council and the YMCA, Mrs Henderson said.

‘The inquest will look at issues and circumstances in the past where she has been left.

‘I need information on the overall care that was provided to Asiah and her mother from BHCC,’ the coroner said.

At the time of her death, Asiah did not have her own social worker or involvement from any external agencies, the coroner’s court heard. A social worker was assigned to mother Verphy Kudi.

Baby girl, 1, starved to death while her teen mother partied for six days, inquest hears

Kudi, who lived in a supported housing complex in Brighton, left her baby alone she partied in London and Coventry 

Pictured: Screengrabs taken from mobile phone footage dated December 8 of Kudi at a concert in Elephant and Castle London

Pictured: Screengrabs taken from mobile phone footage dated December 8 of Kudi at a concert in Elephant and Castle London

Pictured: Screengrabs taken from mobile phone footage dated December 8 of Kudi at a concert in Elephant and Castle London 

During her trial, 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. 

Geoffrey Weddell, representing the YMCA, said they would provide details of the tenancy agreement as evidence at the inquest.

Kudi broke down in tears as she was jailed for nine years and taken away by court staff

Kudi broke down in tears as she was jailed for nine years and taken away by court staff

‘The YMCA has the the the tenancy agreement, tenancy specification, notes of contacts made with the mother giving day-by-day account of what was seen and said and what was going on at that time.

‘The YMCA provided support limited to two hours a week. Most of the time, it wouldn’t be aware of day to day events to do with mother and daughter.

‘The YMCA is primarily an accommodation provider,’ he said.

The child’s grandparents Muba Kudi and Asia Betrane followed the hearing online.

Jacqueline Madders, who spoke for Mrs Betrane, asked the coroner if the inquest will look at prevention.

‘Could this death have been prevented had the services been engaged given the history,’ she asked.

‘This will be explored at inquest,’ the coroner said. ‘The inquest will look at the wider circumstances surrounding her death.

‘The medical cause of death, the Post Mortem, toxicology and past medical history.

‘The direct and wider circumstances surrounding Asiah’s death,’ the coroner said.

Verphy Kudi, who is serving her sentence at HMP Bronzefield, will be an interested person entitled to representation at the inquest.

The court heard Asiah’s father will also be offered IP status if he can be located.

‘I offer my very sincere condolences to the family of Asiah for her death,’ the coroner said.

A full inquest is expected to start in March next year and will last at least three days.

Kudi appeared in the dock at Lewes Crown Court on August 6 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. 

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.

It had been previously been revealed Kudi tried to sell concert tickets on Twitter on the day the baby's body was found

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

Another tweet showed her attempting to become a Pretty Little Thing model months after Asiah’s death 

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.

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