Amanda Hutton 'starved four-year-old son to death'

The BBC's Ed Thomas reports on the details of the case

The mummified body of a four-year-old boy was found in a cot in his mother's bedroom almost two years after he starved to death, a jury has heard.

Hamzah Khan was still dressed in baby clothes when police made the "dreadful discovery" at his house in Bradford in September 2011, the court was told.

The boy's mother, Amanda Hutton, 43, who denies manslaughter, has gone on trial at Bradford Crown Court.

The jury heard conditions in the house had "disturbed even hardened officers".

'Conditions of squalor'

Opening the case for the prosecution, Paul Greaney QC told the jury Hamzah died on 15 December 2009 when he was four-and-a-half years old.

Start Quote

How had a child starved to death in 21st Century England?”

End Quote Paul Greaney QC

But the barrister said the boy's remains were found 21 months later in clothing intended for a baby aged six to nine months.

These clothes still fitted him because his growth had been stunted, Mr Greaney said.

"It had been stunted because he was malnourished over a lengthy period and that state of affairs resulted in his death. In short, he starved to death.

"How had a child starved to death in 21st Century England?"

Ms Hutton had failed to provide her son with the nourishment he needed to survive and, by failing to do so, she had killed him, said Mr Greaney.

He said the "dreadful discovery" of Hamzah's body was made after a police community support officer spoke to Ms Hutton and became concerned.

Police who went into the property were faced with "conditions of squalor," he said.

Rotting matter

"What they discovered disturbed even hardened officers."

Mr Greaney said a consultant paediatrician went to the house after Ms Hutton's arrest and found it "overwhelming to visit".

He said: "She discovered that there was a huge amount of rubbish, rotting matter, faeces and empty bottles.

Hamzah Khan Hamzah Khan's body was found in a cot in his mother's bedroom, the court heard

"She described the smell of the property as offensive almost beyond description."

Ms Hutton was an abuser of alcohol and cannabis, the court was told.

The jury would have to consider whether Hamzah was "a secondary and less important consideration than those addictions," Mr Greaney said.

He told the jury he expected Ms Hutton's defence lawyers to claim that her son's malnutrition could have arisen through "some naturally occurring condition".

However, he said the prosecution would argue that she was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence on two counts after having failed to feed her son adequately and failing to seek medical help for him.

The jury heard Hamzah's father, Aftab Khan, was separated from Ms Hutton and lived elsewhere.

Mr Greaney said there was evidence Mr Khan was violent towards the defendant.

'Called for pizza'

In police interviews, Ms Hutton said Hamzah had become particularly unwell on 14 December 2009, the jury heard.

She said the next day she went to a supermarket to consult a pharmacist but got a phone call to come home.

"She explained when she returned Hamzah was near to death. She sought to revive him but to no effect," said Mr Greaney.

"She described placing Hamzah into his cot, making plain she had treated his body with dignity."

The child's body was found with a teddy bear, said Mr Greaney.

The jury was told Ms Hutton had ordered pizza within hours of her son's death and continued to claim child benefit for him.

The prosecutor told the jury: "She made no call for assistance - for a doctor or an ambulance.

"What did she do? Within hours she was ordering a pizza. So, no call for assistance but a call, or even calls, for pizza."

The jury would have to consider whether these matters "demonstrate anything about her attitude towards Hamzah," Mr Greaney told the jury.

The trial continues.

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