Teachers and classmates have paid tribute to “warm and generous” seven-year-old Hakeem Hussain, whose mother has been convicted of fatally neglecting him.
“Incapable” Laura Heath deliberately “prioritised her addiction to heroin and crack cocaine” prior to the “needless, premature” death of Hakeem from an asthma attack on November 26 2017, prosecutors told the jury at Coventry Crown Court.
The 40-year-old, of Long Acre, Birmingham, was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter on Friday after a three-week trial, having already admitted four child cruelty offences.
In a statement, released in December 2017, staff and children at Nechells Primary Academy paid tribute: “Hakeem was a most beautiful little boy, a great friend to many staff and children, with a wicked sense of humour and an infectious giggle.
“He was a warm and generous-hearted soul who was talented across many areas of the curriculum but especially so in music and the arts.
“He totally stole the show with his performance as the Christmas Star in the Year 2 nativity play with his clear speaking voice and stage presence.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he delivered his lines with poignancy, grace and humour.
“The twinkle in his beautiful eyes was as bright as the stars in the sky, and our love for him will shine out forever, from all of his Nechells family.”
Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Michelle Thurgood, of West Midlands Police, who led the investigation, said: “Hakeem’s death was untimely, tragic and preventable.
“He was a young boy who should have been enjoying a carefree and happy childhood.”
She added: “His mother had a duty of care to manage the administration of his asthma medication.
“Her life and home was chaotic and this had a detrimental impact on poor little Hakeem.
“My thoughts remain with his loved ones and I hope the court outcome offers some comfort.”
Georgina Davies, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was a tragic case of a young boy who was let down by his mother, who should have protected him.
“The terrible choices that Laura Heath repeatedly made led to the loss of Hakeem Hussain and I welcome the jury’s decision.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to Hakeem’s family. I hope today’s verdict brings them a small measure of comfort that Heath has been held accountable for Hakeem’s death.”