AN INDEPENDENT review into the death of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular is to take place after his mother admitted she killed the toddler and stuffed his lifeless body into a suitcase, a month after social workers stopped monitoring the family.
Rosdeep Adekoya, 34, had been charged with murder but admitted a reduced charge of culpable homicide at the High Court in Edinburgh. The prosecution said it accepted she had not intended to kill her son and that although the attack on him was severe, it lacked the “wicked recklessness” required for a murder charge.
The court heard Adekoya’s internet history showed searches including “I find it hard to love my son”, “I love all of my children except one”, “Why am I so aggressive with my son” and “Get rid of bruises”.
It also heard how Adekoya repeatedly beat her son before putting his body in a suitcase and burying it in woodland.
A massive search was launched in January when Adekoya reported Mikaeel missing from their home in Edinburgh’s Ferry Gait Crescent.
But yesterday it emerged the three-year-old had died two days earlier after his mother “lost her temper” following a trip to a restaurant. Mikaeel was smacked and struck on the body and head with a clenched fist when he began vomiting repeatedly after he had been to Nando’s in Edinburgh’s Fountain Park on Sunday, 12 January.
Adekoya dragged him to the shower by his arms and “beat him heavily” on his back as he lay over the edge of the bath, causing internal damage.
He was kept off nursery as his condition deteriorated and by Tuesday night – the 14th – he was “listless”.
After discovering his body on the floor of their Edinburgh home, Adekoya wrapped it in a duvet cover, concealed it in the suitcase and drove 25 miles to Fife to hide it behind her sister’s home.
But she waited until 7:15am on Thursday the 16th to dial 999 and report her son missing, in an effort to conceal the crime.
An extensive search was then launched. But mobile telephone masts recorded her journey across the Forth Road Bridge, undermining her statements to police about her whereabouts.
She finally broke down, admitting to police: “It was an accident and I panicked.”
Adekoya, who will be sentenced on 25 August, also admitted a separate charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by pretending to police her son had gone missing.
Defence QC Brian McConnachie said the case was “truly tragic” for all the family.
He told the court: “Rosdeep Adekoya is not a monster.”
But advocate depute Alex Prentice, prosecuting, said Mikaeel would have been in “significant pain” after being beaten by his mother.
“The pain would have increased significantly while Mikaeel became dangerously ill … finally dying as a result of the injuries inflicted upon him by the accused.”
Yesterday, the court heard how Fife social services had monitored Adekoya and her young family until December 2013 – the month before Mikaeel’s death.
Announcing a “significant case review”, Edinburgh and Fife councils said the investigation would look into the circumstances surrounding the death.
John Myles, independent chair of Fife child protection committee, said: “The review will be led independently and will take place in two phases. The first phase will look at information available from files, records, and policies and procedures that were in place before Mikaeel’s death. Work on this phase has already started.
“Phase two will take into account any new information that has come to light during the criminal proceedings and will involve interviews with relevant staff. We are aiming to announce the findings by December.”
The court heard police who attended the family’s flat after the report of Mikaeel’s disappearance said his mother initially appeared “very upset and distressed”.
But inconsistencies began to appear in her account of events and by the Friday evening, they “suspected that all was not as she had indicated”.
Eventually Adekoya broke down and took officers to her son’s body. The final cause of Mikaeel’s death was found to be “blunt force abdominal trauma” – he had more than 40 separate injuries to his body.
Mr Prentice said: “If medical assistance had been called for, death might not have resulted,” adding that Adekoya did not take him to a doctor because of the bruising.
Mr McConnachie said: “It appears from every source … that this has been a brief period when this young woman has lost her temper and behaved in a way which is totally out of character for her.”
She would have to live with the consequences for the rest of her life, he said.
Social services became involved before the birth of Mikaeel and his twin sister as their mother intended to have them adopted. They were placed in foster care at three days old, but Adekoya quickly changed her mind about the adoption.
The court heard social services continued to “keep an eye” on the family.
Mr Prentice said Adekoya’s attitude to looking after her children changed in mid-2012 when she began going out drinking with friends.
Her mother contacted social services on at least two occasions in May 2012.
In July that year, Fife social services were alerted that she had left all the children at home in Dunvegan Avenue, Kirkcaldy, without proper supervision to go on a night out with friends in Edinburgh.
The older children were taken in by their father, while the twins were placed in emergency foster care. They remained in the St Andrews area on a long-term foster placement and had regular contact with their mother.
They returned home to live with her in August 2013, by which point her children by her husband had also been returned to her, and the family had moved to Ferry Gait Crescent in Edinburgh.
The family were monitored by Fife social services until December 2013, the court heard.
Mr Prentice said Mikaeel was generally “a healthy, happy little boy”. He said: “While he was subject to social work involvement, this had ceased by the time of his death and while there had been concerns for his welfare in terms of the accused going out and leaving him and his siblings without adequate supervision in the past, it is not the case that the concerns and attentions of social services were focused specifically on Mikaeel but more on the children and the family as a whole.”
Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, who was involved in the search for the little boy, said: “Mikaeel’s disappearance and death deeply impacted on his family. It also resonated across the community in which he lived.
“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the public for all of their help during the search efforts.”
Care Inspectorate chief executive Annette Bruton said: “This is a tragic and disturbing case.
“We welcome the serious case review and expect it to be comprehensive, thorough and robust. We expect it to determine exactly what happened and establish if there was any action which might have led to a different outcome.
“If there are lessons to be learned, they must be directed at preventing future tragedy.”