Thursday, 20 June 2013

R v Abdulrahman ~ Grievous bodily harm to baby ~ Post partum psychosis ~ Sentencing

In the Crown Court at Birmingham, Mrs Justice Thirlwall has imposed a sentence of 30 months imprisonment on Jaymin Abdulrahman who was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to her then six day old baby in September 2012.  The judge's concise sentencing remarks are available via the Judiciary website - (HERE).

The baby was born on 2nd September 2012. On 8th September, Abdulrahman placed the baby in a bin liner, put the liner in a rubbish
chute and closed the chute causing the baby to fall from the 5th floor to the bins below.  The result was that the baby suffered
catastrophic head injuries which, according to the judge, will last for life.

Abdulrahman was acquitted of both attempted murder (which would have required proof of intention to kill) and inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent (Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.18).  She was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm - (Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.20) - an offence with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

The judge's remarks state that the jury were satisfied that Abdulrahman was or may have been suffering from post partum psychosis at the time of the offence.  The Sentencing Guidelines were considered and a starting point of 18 months identified - (page 8 of the guidelines).   The guideline range is 12 months to 3 years.   Counsel urged a sentence which would have permitted immediate release so that Abdulrahman could be assessed within family proceedings as a potential carer.  The judge considered that submission with great care but rejected it since the sentence had to recognise the seriousness of the consequences.  30 months imprisonment was considered to be the shortest which could be imposed.

The 1861 Act is seen as archaic and in need of reform.  It is the subject of extensive judicial interpretation.  The Law Commission has been asked by the Ministry of Justice to consider reform and work is to commence in 2014.   The Commission produced an earlier report in 1993 (LC 218) but no action was taken to being the recommendations into law.


  1. Potential carer?

    I don't do family law but is that remotely possible when this unfortunate woman is released?

    1. I deliberately dodged that one! The woman continues to have parental responsibility for the child. I don't know the situation regarding any family proceedings in relation to the baby. The family proceedings case would be very difficult. A possible outcome is that the local authority will get a care order so as to be able to share parental responsibility with the mother. I would suspect that it is somewhat unlikely that the child (which is severely disabled) would be actually returned to the care of the mother and, if that is right, then alternative carers would be required. Presumably, some contact for the natural mother might be built into the care plan - probably supervised contact. As I say - an exceptionally difficult situation and an extremely tragic one.