Ayesha Ali killing: Mother and lover found guilty

Ayesha Ali Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Ayesha Ali was found dead in her bedroom in August 2013 with more than 50 injuries

A woman and her sadistic lover who created a cyber fantasy world have been convicted of killing her eight-year-old daughter.

Ayesha Ali was found dead in her bedroom with more than 50 injuries in east London, in August 2013.

The girl's mother Polly Chowdhury, 35, and lover Kiki Muddar were convicted of her manslaughter but cleared of murder.

The Old Bailey heard Muddar, 43, manipulated Chowdhury through a series of fictitious friends on social media.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the court Ayesha endured a "background of prolonged abuse" and some "might call it torture" because Muddar had a "disgust" for the child.

'Not delusional'

Muddar, of Green Lane, Ilford, used Facebook updates and text messages to poison Chowdhury against her daughter, the jury was told.

One alias she created was spirit guide "Skyman", whom she used to manipulate Chowdhury into believing Ayesha had "bad blood" and needed to be disciplined to get the "evil spirits" out of her.

But Mr Whittam told the court a psychiatrist found that Muddar had not been delusional in her actions and understood what she was doing.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Polly Chowdhury (left) and Kiki Muddar were convicted of manslaughter by a 10-2 majority

"She was rational in her judgments in having a disgust with Ayesha. She did not like Polly Chowdhury putting Ayesha above her interests," he said.

"However immoral, abhorrent and illegal her judgment, it was rational... there is no question of either defendant having been mad."

The court heard Muddar befriended Chowdhury when they lived next door to each other in 2007 and she got sympathy by pretending she had cancer.

Drowning threat

Chowdhury's husband Afsar Ali moved the family to get away from her influence, but Muddar eventually tracked them down, prompting the breakdown of their marriage.

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Media captionAyesha's father, Afsar Ali: "When I laid Ayesha in her grave I didn't want to come out"

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Ali said: "[Kiki] came across as like a really evil person to me straight away.

"She would never come to my property when I was there, she would never speak to Polly when I was there. So everything that happened was done when I was at work or when I was doing social stuff.

"I felt that she was leading our lives, my life in a way... in terms of being their father and Polly's husband... she had an agenda which I knew from day one."

Joe Inwood, BBC News, the Old Bailey

At first glance, the death of Ayesha Ali was a simple case of filicide.

When police arrived at the family's east London flat, they found the eight-year-old dead and her mother having tried to commit suicide.

A note, written by Polly Chowdhury, confessed to killing Ayesha by smothering her with a pillow and also declared her love for a man named "Jimmy".

How then, 18 months on, have two people been found responsible for her death?

The answer, according to one of the defence barristers I spoke to during the trial, is an exceptional police investigation.

Officers sifted through more than 100,000 texts, social media messages and interactions to untangle a complicated cast of characters.

Chief among them was the religious adviser Skyman, a Muslim spiritual guide who claimed Ayesha was "evil", and Polly's online lover, Jimmy.

But, through a combination of painstaking investigation, technical know-how and determination, police managed to prove none of them existed.

Behind them was Kiki Muddar.

Huge amounts of resources were expended, including on a battle with Facebook to access accounts and travel to India to track down the innocent man whose photos had been used to create Jimmy.

According to the lawyer, that work, while not absolving Polly Chowdhury of responsibility for her daughter's death, does mean that she is not alone in paying for it.

The bizarre relationship which led to Ayesha's death

Throughout their relationship, Muddar, told Chowdhury that Ayesha was "evil" and bombarded her with more than 40,000 texts with messages such as: "You have no right to ever love or like your evil daughter".

She even blamed Ayesha for making her fictional cancer worse.

In a recorded phone conversation with a friend the month before the killing, Muddar described Ayesha as "pure evil" and a "witch" and threatened to drown her in the bath.

Chowdhury, of Broomfield Road, Chadwell Heath, admitted during the case that after Muddar moved in with her, they smacked Ayesha and hit her with a wooden spoon because Skyman told them to do so.

Post-mortem examinations revealed Ayesha died as a result of damage to the head from a blow or blows, on 29 August 2013.

'Despicable crime'

She had other injuries including carpet burns and a bite mark from her mother.

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Media captionDet Sgt Andy Nimmo read statements on behalf of the Metropolitan Police and Ayesha's father, Afsar Ali

Det Insp Donna Convery said: "It took us months to unpick and investigate the web of lies that Kiki Muddar had constructed.

"In the six months before her death, Ayesha was subjected to horrific levels of mental abuse, which during the summer holidays escalated to become physical.

"She was an innocent child who was caught up in the most bizarre set of events, manipulated by two adults who were intent on causing her harm."

The jury, which retired on 19 February, cleared the pair of murder but found them guilty of manslaughter by a majority of 10-2 after deliberating for more than 31 hours.

Chowdhury and Muddar are due to be sentenced on Friday.

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