CCTV footage has emerged showing a mother carrying her dead baby on to a bus as her partner gives her a thumbs-up, as part of an attempt to stage their daughter’s death.
Rosalin Baker, 25, boarded the bus with baby Imani’s corpse in a sling and sat calmly using her mobile for 20 minutes before raising the alarm with a piece of play-acting, pretending the baby had suddenly stopped breathing.
The 16-week-old girl, who was born prematurely, had been dead for up to 24 hours after suffering a fractured skull, brain injuries and multiple other injuries at the hands of her drug-addicted parents.
A jury at the Old Bailey yesterday cleared the couple of murder after deliberating for 14 hours but found them guilty of causing or allowing the death of their daughter, who was on the child protection register.
CCTV captured 52-year-old former music producer Jeffrey Wiltshire giving his girlfriend Baker a kiss before he made the “good luck” gesture as she boarded the bus in east London after topping up her Oyster card on the morning of 28 September last year.
Twenty minutes into the journey, Baker pretended to check on her daughter and told a passenger she wasn’t breathing. Several passengers made frantic attempts to revive the little girl while one called for emergency services.
The court heard that while other passengers became deeply distressed when they realised the child had died, Baker remained impassive for the entire time others tried in vain to revive Imani.
One of the women who assisted recalled that when she gave the baby the kiss of life, her lips were cold.
Imani was pronounced dead at an east London hospital where medical professionals noticed she was cold to the touch and rigor mortis had already set in.
A post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death was a head injury, while tests identified Imani had at least 40 separate injuries to her body, including fractures to her wrist, ribs and head, consistent with child abuse.
The couple were charged with murder shortly afterwards, which they denied.
The jury heard that Imani was born prematurely at 28 weeks on 2 June last year, and was incubated and ventilated for 65 days. The baby girl spent much of her time in hospital alone as her mother visited her on only 22 occasions and her father did not visit her once.
The baby girl was discharged from hospital on 22 August and detectives believe a catalogue of abuse began soon afterwards.
Giving evidence, Baker claimed her much older boyfriend was violent and would get high on heroin and cocaine “every day”.
Baker said: “The first thing I thought was he's done something to her. When I looked at her she looked really bad. I thought she was dead.”
But Wiltshire, a former rapper who claimed to have fathered 25 children, denied hurting his “tiny and beautiful” daughter either intentionally or unintentionally, or witnessing anyone else injure her.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes from the Homicide and Major Crime Command said after the verdict: “Imani was a premature baby and from the very moment she was born the odds were stacked against her. Despite a challenging start to life she fought to survive but sadly her fight was short lived as she suffered at the hands of the very people who were supposed to love, nurture and protect her.
“Baker and Wiltshire orchestrated the most devious of plans in an attempt to cover up the abuse that had been inflicted upon their daughter. Their ruse quickly unravelled when medical professionals were able to determine that Imani had probably died up to 24 hours previously and with this overwhelming and compelling evidence charges against the two were swiftly brought.”
He added that the events of that day had made a “devastating” impact on the lives of many of the passengers on board the number 25 bus.
“Many of those who stepped in to provide medical assistance were left completely distressed when they realised their efforts to save Imani were futile, not knowing that the entire incident had been staged.
“Baker misled these good Samaritans and gave no thought to anyone but herself as she callously remained on her mobile phone throughout.”
He added that neither had shown any remorse for their crimes.
“The level of violence and cruelty inflicted on such a young child is something that I have never come across during the course of my career and I hope never to witness anything like this again. Baker and Wiltshire were naïve in their thinking and brazenly thought they could get away with such a heinous crime.”
The pair will appear for sentencing at the Old Bailey on 18 May.
Bbay Imani was under a child protection plan with Newham social services.
A Newham Council spokeswoman said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of this baby girl in what can only be described as a terrible tragedy.
“A serious case review is currently underway, which involves a number of different organisations, and we anticipate it to be completed shortly.”
An spokeswoman for the NSPCC said: “We hope the serious case review will provide much-needed answers about the circumstances surrounding the death of baby Imani.
“This is a deeply disturbing case. As her parents they should have kept their daughter safe from harm but instead they either caused or allowed her death which they then tried to conceal.
“It is entirely right that both Baker and Wiltshire have been brought to justice for this despicable crime.”