HMA v ROSDEEP ADEKOYA

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 25 August 2014, Lord Glennie sentenced Rosdeep Adekoya to 11 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to culpable homicide of her three-year-old son, Mikaeel Kular.

On sentencing, Lord Glennie made the following statement in court: 

“You have pled guilty to culpable homicide of your three-year-old son, Mikaeel Kular.  

You have also pled guilty to attempting to defeat the ends of justice, concealing the crime by hiding the body and reporting him missing, which resulted in a massive search involving the police, the fire service, the coastguard, mountain rescue teams, air support and hundreds of members of the public who volunteered their services to answer the call for help. 

It is not clear precisely what triggered the events leading to Mikaeel’s death. But the bare facts are tolerably clear. On 12 January you took him out with friends to a restaurant for a meal. You thought he was disobeying you and had eaten too much. He was sick when getting ready for bed, and you lost your temper with him. You smacked him and you struck him on the body with your clenched fist. He was sick again and you struck him again, on the head and body with both an open hand and a clenched fist. He was sick for a third time later that night, and again you lost your temper, dragging him to the bathroom and beating him on his back with hand and fist while he was draped over the edge of the bath. It was probably that beating which caused the internal injuries from which he died. But it was not the last beating you inflicted on him. The next morning he was sick again when about to leave for school, and you struck him on the back with your hand. He was listless for the next two days or so, but you did not take him to the doctor when you knew you should have done because you were frightened that Mikaeel’s bruises would be noticed. 

Mikaeel died at some point during the night of 14 January. It is clear that he was in severe pain, and that the pain would have been increasing during the period leading up to his death.  

The Crown accept that you had no intention to kill Mikaeel. Although you knew you had harmed him, you did not realise – and you could not reasonably have been expected to realise – that beating him had put his life in danger. For that same reason, the Crown also accept that, although the assault on Mikaeel was severe and your failure to take him to the doctor was inexcusable, it did not display the wicked recklessness necessary for a conviction for murder. It was not a case of not caring whether Mikaeel lived or died; you were not even aware that death was a possibility until it happened. That is why your plea of guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide has been accepted. 

Nevertheless, what you did was cruel and inexcusable. Striking a child even once is bad enough. Striking him heavily and repeatedly with hand and fist when he was being sick again and again simply beggars belief. Mikaeel was by all accounts a healthy happy little boy. By your actions, however unintended, you have not only robbed Mikaeel of his young life but left a gaping hole in the lives of all who loved him. 

In those circumstances a custodial sentence is inevitable. 

In considering the length of that sentence I have taken account of everything said by your counsel on your behalf. I have also read carefully the Criminal Justice Social Work Report and the psychological report instructed by your lawyers. 

I accept that your remorse is genuine and heartfelt. You are clearly an intelligent and articulate young woman. There is no history of violence by you towards any of your children. That makes it all the more difficult to understand your actions. I do not suppose that you really understand why you did what you did. 

Both the Social Work Report and the psychological report make it clear that you have suffered from depression for some time, and particularly in the last few months before Mikaeel’s death. This has been characterised by a low mood, stress and lack of motivation. You have found yourself overwhelmed by your circumstances, without any adequate coping strategies.  

This is by no means unusual for someone in your position as, in effect, a single mother with the responsibility of looking after the children (or at least the two youngest). 

But in addition, for reasons set out in the psychological report which I do not propose to recite in any detail here, it is clear that the normal bond between mother and child simply failed to develop between you and Mikaeel, though it clearly developed with the other children. The reasons are complex, and relate in part to the time when the children were being well cared for by foster carers and the help you needed from your sister when taking them back into your care. This helps explain the internet searches which you conducted between September 2013 and January 2014. You clearly recognised the lack of a close maternal bond with Mikaeel, to the extent of searching on the internet for some understanding of why you did not love him in the same way as you loved your other children and of why you always felt angry with him. You clearly needed help, but did not know how to ask for it. 

As Mr McConnachie accepts, none of that excuses your action. I accept that you have no record of any significance; that there is no history of lasting or recurrent neglect; that this assault on Mikaeel appears to have been wholly out of character; that you had no intention to kill or any thought that your actions might have that effect; that your mental state played a significant part in what happened; and that your remorse is entirely genuine. But none of that takes away from the fact that you are responsible by your actions for the death of your young son. Prison will not bring Mikaeel back; but society must express its condemnation of your actions in the form of a lengthy prison sentence. 

In addition, by your pretence that Mikaeel had gone missing you caused a massive manhunt to be undertaken, involving both the emergency services and the public. I accept that this was not planned and that you simply panicked when you realised that Mikaeel was dead. But this too, as your counsel recognised, is a serious matter. 

Had it not been for your early plea of guilty to the reduced charge, and the indication at an even earlier stage that such a plea would be forthcoming, I would have sentenced you to 13 years imprisonment for the culpable homicide and a further two years for the attempt to defeat the ends of justice. That would have been 15 years in all.  

But you are entitled to a substantial discount to reflect the saving in time and expense of a trial and, perhaps more relevant here, to reflect the fact that witnesses have not had to come to court to give evidence of a horrific and harrowing nature.  

In the circumstances, the sentence of the court is one of imprisonment for 11 years.  That will be backdated to 20 January 2014 since which date you have been in custody.” 

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