Sussex baby death - Mum to spend nine years in jail after admitting manslaughter in 'deeply harrowing case'

A young mother, who abandoned her baby for six days while celebrating her 18th birthday, has been jailed for manslaughter.

Verphy Kudi, 19, will spend nine years in jail after pleading guilty to causing the death of her daughter Asiah, aged 20 months.

She was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court today (Friday, August 6), having admitted at a hearing in March to the manslaughter of her daughter at a flat, where they were living in Islingword Road, Brighton, in December 2019.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Asiah was taken by ambulance to the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton from the address on December 11, 2019 and was tragically confirmed dead soon after arrival at hospital.

In a statement, issued via Sussex Police, Asiah and Verphy's family have 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.”

Verphy Kudi, 19, will spend nine years in jail. Photo: Sussex Police

'This was a particularly distressing case'

Police said that, following a postmortem and subsequent further forensic tests, Asiah's death was found to have resulted from neglect.

When first interviewed by detectives, Kudi initially denied her absence, stating she had been present at the flat as both she and Asiah felt unwell. She only admitted to leaving once to visit London, but claimed her daughter was with her.

However, CCTV footage, phone data and further evidence from people who knew her, Verphy 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.

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

The prosecution, authorised by the CPS, followed an investigation by detectives from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team.

The Senior Investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Andy Wolstenholme, 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.

"In pleading guilty, Ms Kudi accepted the terrible judgements she made in leaving her child alone and unprotected for such a protracted period, and accepts the lies she told to friends, family and professionals to cover up her neglect of her daughter and in order to avoid being caught.

"I hope Verphy's acceptance will help the rest of her family to grieve the terrible loss of Asiah."

DCI Wolstenholme said Sussex Police will 'always go the extra mile' to investigate offending against children and all vulnerable people, 'as well as supporting their families and friends'.

He added: "I would always urge anyone who has concerns for the wellbeing of a child, or vulnerable adult, to contact the relevant authorities as early as possible, so that supportive interventions can be made."

'Multiple earlier occasions of abandonment and neglect'

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'.

Sussex Police said it, 'like all agencies concerned', will fully participate in that review.

Libby Clark, of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) South East said: “This has been a deeply harrowing case involving the death of a 20-month-old baby.

“Asiah’s mother Verphy Kudi had a duty to keep her safe from harm, but instead selfishly chose to put her own need to party and be with her friends above all else.

"The consequences of her decision meant that Asiah must have suffered dreadfully during the days and nights that she was alone in the flat.

“This follows a history of multiple earlier occasions of abandonment and neglect.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to Asiah’s grandparents and other family for their loss.”