New revelations about Amanda Hutton’s behaviour emerged as she was jailed for the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan, whose decomposed body was found at her home almost two years after he died in December 2009.
Judge Roger Thomas QC also heard how social services were alerted to potential problems at her house six months before police found five children living in “breathtakingly awful” conditions in the home, as well as Hamzah’s mummified remains.
The judge was told Hutton’s eldest son Tariq, who was given a two-year suspended sentence yesterday for preventing his brother’s lawful burial, told interviewing police that “if he said anything, she [Hutton] would kill the rest of the children”.
And the judge heard he later told probation officers his mother held a knife to the throat of one of the children two days after Hamzah’s death.
He said Hutton also threatened to burn down the house.
Hutton, 43, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Hamzah Khan at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
She admitted neglecting five of her other children, aged between five and 13, who were living in the terrible conditions. Judge Thomas sentenced her to 12 years in prison for manslaughter and added three years for child cruelty.
She showed no emotion as she was led from the dock, dressed in black and flanked by security guards. Judge Thomas told her that her “wicked conduct” happened “through your purposeful, persistent and gross conduct in failing in that most basic and fundamental requirement that is upon every parent, to feed her child adequately”. He said it “beggars belief” that a child could starve to death in 21st-century Britain.
The judge said: “The most telling and awful fact in this case that speaks volumes about how you starved Hamzah is that when his mummified remains were found, he was comfortably clothed in a baby-gro which was designed for a six to nine-month-old child.
“Moreover, he was found in a cot wearing, at the age of four and a half years, a nappy.”
He said: “Your case, Amanda Hutton, has to be regarded as as bad a case of unlawful killing of a child by a parent as it is possible to imagine.”
A serious case review has been conducted into whether a range of professionals could have spotted what was happening at Hutton’s home in Bradford.
But the judge said yesterday: “I make it clear that this sentencing exercise is not an exercise in seeking to identify or explain how various agencies failed to identify and act upon the very long-term and severe neglect you visited upon your child and which went as far as you literally starving Hamzah to death.”
Information emerged in court yesterday about the family’s contact with various agencies. One of Hutton’s neighbours alerted social services to her concerns about the family six months before Hamzah’s body was found in a cot in Hutton’s bedroom.
The woman, who cannot be named, set out her worries about the house next door in a text that talked about children crying and not being comforted, abuse being shouted, Hutton smelling of alcohol, children never playing out and blinds always being down.
She finished her text explaining her actions by saying: “Better to be safe than sorry.”
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said: “The history of what then occurred is complex. Social services, education services and the police were all involved to a greater or lesser extent.”
Hamzah’s remains were only discovered due to a rookie police community support officer’s tenacious pursuit of a minor antisocial behaviour complaint, because she knew something was wrong. Jodie Dunsmore, who is now a police officer, was commended by the judge.