A five day inquest which examined the death of 20 month-old Asiah Kudi, known affectionately by the family as ‘Naveah’, has concluded at Brighton & Hove City Coroner’s Court this afternoon.
On 11 December 2019, Naveah died after she was left alone in her mother’s flat at Gocher Court.
Naveah and her mother lived in supported accommodation run by YMCA Downslink Group whose services were paid for and commissioned by Brighton & Hove City Council to provide low to medium support to young families. Brighton & Hove City Council paid for Verphy Kudi’s tenancy at Gocher Court as she was under the age of 18.
Prior to December 2019, Naveah had been left alone in the flat at Gocher Court up to six times (between 1 hour and 2 days and 5 hours) in the two months before her death.
Verphy Kudi was required to stay at Gocher Court 4 nights per week and engage in weekly keywork sessions under her tenancy agreement. The Coroner found that Verphy only attended 4 out of 11 keywork sessions during her stay there.
In her conclusion, the Coroner stated that “Although it was suspected that Asiah’s mother was not always residing in the accommodation, the numerous professionals who were involved were not aware that she had been leaving her child alone for long periods.”
In evidence today, the author of the safeguarding report by Brighton & Hove Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, Ms Edina Carmi, said that “not enough digging was done or triangulating [Verphy’s] stories as to where she was going and what she was doing. But also you’ve got this belief that it was being done elsewhere.” The Coroner found that there was no obligation for the professionals to do so.
In her evidence, Ms Carmi stated that from the time Naveah ceased to attend nursery in late 2018, it felt “like she was out of sight” of professionals. It pains the grandparents to hear that Naveah appears to have been overlooked in this way.
Today, the Coroner found that it is unlikely that family or professionals could have prevented Asiah’s death.
Naveah’s grandmother, who has been present at every day of the Inquest hearing, has stated:
“In light of the inquest hearing that took place in the last couple of weeks, we as a family of Asiah Navea Kudi, have had so many unanswered questions in the circumstances leading up to her passing.
In our view, attempts made to answer our questions proved to be futile.
We are disappointed that we did not hear evidence from the staff who were supposed to do increased CCTV checks after safeguarding concerns were raised about Naveah’s care in October 2019.
We believe that there should have been more support for Naveah.
Naveah was the light of our lives. She was adored by all of us, her grandfather and her aunties, who loved her more than anything.
Going forward, we would request for our privacy to be respected whilst we figure out what our next steps in finding out the answers to our questions will be.”
Emma Gilbert, Trainee Solicitor, and Daniel Lemberger Cooper, Solicitor for the Grandparents stated:
“It was Naveah’s Grandparents aim in this Inquest to be a voice for their granddaughter and to understand how, despite the extensive network surrounding her mother, nobody picked up the very many episodes where she was left alone in the two months before her death.
It is unfortunately clear from the complete lack of risk assessments done in relation to Naveah in the final year of her life and the absence of knowledge of her true whereabouts while she was living at Gocher Court, that there was little professional curiosity about Naveah’s lived experience.
The measures that both Brighton & Hove City Council and YMCA Downslink have put in place since Naveah’s death show that there were a series of gaps in the safeguarding of children who are dependents of a vulnerable child under 18, that needed to be filled. We can only hope that these measures will put children like Naveah in the forefront of professional minds working with vulnerable young parents going forward.”
The grandparents are represented by Daniel Cooper, Solicitor, and Emma Gilbert, trainee solicitor, of Imran Khan and Partners, and Jamie Burton KC of Doughty Street Chambers.
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