Gabriella Swerling, The Telegraph, March 26, 2021
Social services have launched a review after a toddler died when she was left alone for almost a week as her mother celebrated her 18th birthday.
Verphy Kudi walked out on her 20-month-old daughter, Asiah, on the day she turned 18, partying across the country for six days while the child starved to death. On Friday, Kudi, now 19, admitted manslaughter.
Brighton and Hove Council has announced a review into Asiah’s death.
CCTV showed that Kudi left her flat in Brighton on Dec 5, 2019, and did not return until Dec 11, when she dialled 999 and told the call handler her baby would not wake up.
Data gathered by Sussex Police showed she had been at parties in London, Coventry and Solihull before returning to Brighton. She admitted the manslaughter of her daughter between Dec 4 and 12.
In the six days for which Asiah was left alone, she starved, dehydrated and contracted influenza. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton on Dec 11. A post-mortem concluded that she died from neglect.
A few days later, staff at the Brighton mother and baby unit for teenage mothers, where Kudi and her daughter had been living, contacted police after reviewing CCTV footage.
Speaking only to enter her guilty plea and give her name, Kudi appeared at Lewes Crown Court and held her hands to her face after the charge of manslaughter was read to her. She was later seen wiping away tears.
Judge Christine Laing QC told Kudi she will be sentenced in May and ordered that all social services records relating to the case be disclosed to the defence ahead of sentencing. She said the defence would commission a report on Kudi’s behalf prior to sentencing, adding: “A doctor will no doubt make arrangements to see you and interview you over the next few weeks.”
Asiah had previously been under a child protection plan but was not at the time of her death. Brighton and Hove City Council confirmed that social services were not involved with Kudi when she left her baby alone to die.
A spokesman said: “We have been deeply saddened by this tragedy. The case is currently the subject of criminal proceedings, and the city’s Safeguarding Children Partnership is also conducting a review of the circumstances into the tragic death of this young child.
“We are undertaking an internal review, which will feed into the partnership review. We have fully supported the police investigation and are committed to working with the partnership in its review and learning from this.
“Asiah was not on a child protection plan and was not involved with social work services when she died. It would not be appropriate for us to comment further while the criminal proceedings and reviews are ongoing.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Wolstenholme, senior investigating officer at Sussex Police, said: “This was a particularly distressing case for my team and me to investigate, and has caused great sorrow amongst Verphy’s family and the many agencies that have supported Verphy and Asiah.
“We note the guilty plea entered in this case, and continue to prepare for Verphy’s sentencing.”