Mum of asthmatic boy, 7, who died ‘gasping for air’ in garden guilty of manslaughter

A drug addict mum has been convicted of a manslaughter after her seven-year-old son was found dead in the garden. Hakeem Hussain was found in freezing conditions in the garden in November 2017 and could not be saved by paramedics.

Laura Heath, his mum, from Birmingham, smoked heroin the previous night and was asleep when Hakeem suffered a fatal asthma attack, The Mirror reports. Heath denied manslaughter at Coventry Crown Court, but had admitted four counts of child cruelty including failing to provide proper medical supervision and exposing Hakeem to class A drugs.

Hakeem’s cause of death was recorded as an asthma attack. The prosecution suggested to the court that he had escaped the smoke-filled house in order to get some fresh air. He died ‘gasping for air’ in the garden, they said.

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A jury today found Heath, 40, guilty of gross negligence manslaughter. She declined to give any evidence.

Jurors spent seven-and-a-half hours deliberating before returning their unanimous guilty verdicts. The court heard how Heath would “source heroin and crack cocaine” as her “first priority in life” ahead of the welfare of her young son.

Laura Heath

The chilling 999 call made by Heath after she found Hakeem was played to the court during the trial. “He’s dead… my son… he’s took himself outside when we’re asleep because he’s got asthma… and he’s fell asleep… he’s dead,” she can be heard saying.

“He’s gone… he’s blue and he’s stiff. There’s no saving him. He’s gone. He’s my baby… he’s my baby.”

Heath told police after her arrest that Hakeem would regularly go outside for fresh air if he was struggling with his breathing. “I had a funny feeling he had gone out in the night and fell asleep outside,” she said during her police interview.

Dr Roger Malcomson a consultant pediatric pathologist who conducted an autopsy on Hakeem in December 11, 2017 found that Hakeem’s lungs were ‘hyperexpanded.’ “Hakeem’s lungs were so hyperexpanded that the lungs overlapped the heart which is not normal,” Dr Malcomson told the court, “the lungs were in a different position compared to that of a normal person.”

Hakeem was made to sleep on a sofa in ‘squalid’ conditions, while his jumper smelled of urine and his school uniform reeked of cigarettes. An image seen by jurors during the trial showed how Heath had even used foil and an elastic band to rig one of her son’s blue inhalers to smoke crack, fueling a £55-a-day habit.

Social Services were made aware of Hakeem’s case before his death, and the court heard that during a child protection conference on November 24, 2017 – two days before his death – a school nurse said “he could die at the weekend”. But, despite Hakeem being at a “serious risk of harm”, it was decided he should not be removed from Heath’s care.

Living room at the property of drug user Laura Heath
Living room at the property of drug user Laura Heath

Following the meeting Heath messaged a pal saying: “Hakeem is on child protection… neglect… hey ho… gonna do what I gotta do.”

Prosecutor Jonas Hankin previously told the court that Heath smoked heroin and crack in the same room as Hakeem despite knowing smoke was ‘one of his triggers’. He had told the jury: “You might well ask yourself what chance did Hakeem have with his mother and her priorities from her?

“His death was avoidable. His death from him was a needless, premature death.

“Hakeem found himself powerless in a perfect storm where he had not been given his preventer medication, his lungs were in a poor condition and he was being put into adverse environments; cold, smoky, dirty environments.”

Heath will be sentenced next Thursday.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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