Teenage mum who left daughter to starve to death while she partied for days is jailed

6 August 2021, 17:04

Verphy Kudi has been jailed for nine years for the manslaughter of her 20-month-old daughter
Verphy Kudi has been jailed for nine years for the manslaughter of her 20-month-old daughter. Picture: Sussex Police

By Sophie Barnett

A teenage mother who left her 20-month-old daughter to starve to death while she partied in London and Coventry for nearly six days has been jailed.

Verphy Kudi went to a 1990s music concert in Elephant and Castle and even had a DJ announce her birthday during her days-long jaunt away from home, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Her 20-month-old daughter, Asiah, was alone in her flat in Brighton more than 50 miles away.

The toddler tragically died from influenza and starvation after having been left unattended in the flat for days on end, the court heard.

When first interviewed by police, Kudi maintained that she had been with her child at the flat all the time, except for one visit she made with her to London.

But the court heard how the police investigation found from CCTV, phone, and other evidence from people who knew her, that Kudi left the flat on December 5, her 18th birthday, and did not return until December 11, leaving her child alone and uncared for throughout that time.

Kudi had gone first to London, and then with friends to another's birthday party in Coventry, before returning to Brighton via London.

Prosecutor Sally Howes QC said CCTV covering Kudi's home showed that she had left Asiah alone in the flat for five days, 21 hours and 58 minutes.

Kudi left Brighton on December 5 and went to London, where she spent her birthday with her boyfriend.

On December 7 she attended a concert in Elephant and Castle, staying out until 4am.

Two days later she moved on to a birthday party in Coventry - 150 miles from Brighton - before returning to London the next day and then home to East Sussex on December 11.

When paramedics were finally called to the flat on December 11 2019 after Kudi had returned, they found her "incoherent, distressed and distraught" and Asiah lying on the floor. She was confirmed dead on arrival at Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital.

Kudi, now 19, appeared in the dock at Lewes Crown Court on Friday for sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

She bowed her head as the details of her daughter's final days were read out.

Sentencing Kudi, Judge Christine Laing QC said: "Asiah was alone in that flat for six days - less two hours - unable to do anything to draw attention to her plight.

"She was a helpless child and relied completely on you as her mother to provide for her needs.

"It is almost unbearable to contemplate her suffering in the final days of her life, suffering that she endured so that you could celebrate your birthday and the birthdays of your friends as a carefree teenager."

"It goes without saying that this is a particularly tragic case and it no doubt raises strong emotions in all who hear of it, but everyone should bear in mind that the charge I sentence you for is one of manslaughter, it being accepted that you did not intend to cause Asiah death nor to cause her really serious harm."

Peter Wilcock QC, defending Kudi, said it is "truly a tragic and devastating case".

He added: "She herself, the defendant, is both very young and we would submit very vulnerable."

Mr Wilcock cited her young age at the time of the offence and her history of vulnerability, as well as the effects any sentence will have on her going forward.

In a statement, Asiah and Verphy's family said: "We are saddened by the current situation and as a family we have many unanswered questions. Verphy has experienced so much at such a young age and we have always done what we can to support her.

"As a family we are in the midst of an unbearable tragedy. Not only are we coming to terms with what has happened today but we are also still grieving for our beloved Asiah. We would be grateful if our privacy can be respected at this moment.”

Kudi stood motionless as she was jailed for nine years.

The Brighton and Hove Safeguarding Children Partnership (BHSCP) is carrying out a Child Safeguarding Practice Review (CSPR) of this case, which they aim to publish later this year.