The mother of a seven-year-old found dead from an asthma attack “prioritised her drug addiction” over his welfare, a court has heard.
Hakeem Hussain was found by paramedics in the garden of a house on Cook Street, Birmingham, on 26 November 2017.
His mother, Laura Heath, has admitted four counts of child cruelty but denies gross manslaughter. A court heard on Monday how a child protection meeting with Hakeem’s teachers and his social worker had taken place just two days before his death.
At the meeting the school nurse had warned that Hakeem was at risk of dying and that he should be taken away from his mother immediately.
The panel decided that, although the 7-year-old was at serious risk, he should not be removed from his mother’s care just yet.
Prosecutors said that at the time of Hakeem’s death “sourcing heroin and crack cocaine” had become Laura Heath’s “first priority in life”.
They alleged that the “defendant prioritised her drug addiction over Hakeem’s welfare, despite being aware of the risk that her conduct posed to her son’s health.”
“The defendant’s drug addiction was spiraling out of control,” lawyers said, “She continued to neglect Hakeem’s asthma.”
The court heard that one of Laura Heath’s other children, who had been visiting, witness her smoking crack cocaine off one of Hakeem’s blue inhaler cases.
The night before his death, Hakeem had gone to bed at around 10pm and “his mother says she joined him in the same bed after she had finished smoking heroin in the living room,” prosecutor Matthew Brook told Coventry Crown Court.
At some point during the night Hakeem got out of bed and went outside to get some fresh air to ease his asthma. The temperature outside in Birmingham at the time was near freezing, at 2 or 3C, with Hakeem only wearing a top and pajama bottoms.
He would usually wake up his mother so that he could get his medication but on this did not happen on this occasion, Mr Brook said.
“The evidence shows that on this occasion his mother had not come to his aid and sadly Hakeem’s lifeless body was found in the garden, outside the flat. Hakeem had no asthma medication on him,” the court heard.
Hakeem, who had severe asthma, had been taken to hospital emergency services at least three times in the three years leading up to his death. One of the hospital doctors, following Hakeem’s admission in September 2015, noted that the child’s health condition was “very concerning” and “needs follow up”.
A safeguarding officer at Hakeem’s primary school had made a referral to Birmingham children’s services in April 2016 about the child’s poor attendance and his mother’s failure to manage Hakeem’s health condition.
GP services also repeatedly raised concerns with Laura Heath that Hakeem’s asthma was not being managed properly.
High concentrations of heroin samples were found in Hakeem’s hair, with laywers saying that if they had been on an adult they would indicate high drug use.
Lawyer Matthew Brook told the court that Hakeem would have been passively exposed to heroin, cocaine and cannabis “through smoke and inadvertent contact with the drugs or drug powder in the unclean environment he was living in.”
The trial continues.