Couple staged their baby’s death on London bus after months of physical abuse

Tom Batchelor

A couple who staged the death of their premature baby on a London bus are facing a lengthy prison sentence after being found guilty at a trial at the Old Bailey.

Rosalin Baker, 25, and Jeffrey Wiltshire, 52, were convicted of causing or allowing the death of their three-month-old daughter Imani after the court heard the girl’s mother tried to make it appear she had suddenly been taken ill, appealing to fellow passengers to help try and resuscitate her.

In fact, the child had died at home 24 hours earlier, following months of physical abuse.

The week before her death, Imani was attacked three times and suffered 40 rib fractures, a broken wrist and terrible head injuries, jurors were told.

Jeffrey Wiltshire, 52, and Rosalin Baker, 25, who are facing jail over the death of their premature baby (PA)

The couple, both drug addicts, face up to 14 years in jail. They were both found not guilty of murder.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC described Baker as “cold and calm” throughout the incident, which took place last September.

Imani, was born prematurely at 28 weeks last June, spending her first 65 days in an incubator. Police said Baker only visited her daughter on 22 occasions and Wiltshire never visited.

On 28 September, Baker entered a convenience store with Imani strapped in a sling. Baker later admitted that Imani was already dead at that point.

The youngster’s face was covered with a cloth to hide the fact she was no longer alive.

Wiltshire was caught on CCTV kissing Baker, and then giving her a thumbs up as she boarded a bus to Stratford, east London.

CCTV still issued by the Metropolitan Police of Rosalin Baker being given the thumbs up by Jeffrey Wiltshire as she boards a bus (PA)

Twenty minutes into the journey, Baker raised the alarm that her daughter was not breathing and passengers desperately tried to save Imani by giving her CPR and calling an ambulance.

Police said many of the passengers mistook one of the women who had provided medical assistance for Imani’s mother “given how much anguish she was in, while Baker sat in her seat emotionless”.

Imani was taken to an east London hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Doctors said Imani was already cold to the touch and that onset of Rigor Mortis had begun.

A post-mortem determined the cause of death was a head injury and tests identified she had at least 40 separate injuries across her body, including several fractures to her ribs, head and wrist which were all consistent with non-accidental injury.

Baker and Wiltshire were arrested in connection with Imani’s death and the next day, Baker gave a prepared statement in which she stated that she “loved her baby and never hurt her’ and that she thought Imani had been fine despite a fall a few days earlier.

Giving evidence, Baker blamed her boyfriend, who she described as a violent man who 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.

He also denied being abusive towards Baker.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes, of Scotland Yard, said: "The loss of any child is tragic but to know that baby Imani was tortured and was probably in considerable pain in her last few hours is heart-rending.

"Imani was a premature baby and from the very moment she was born the odds were stacked against 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.

CCTV still issued by the Metropolitan Police of Rosalin Baker in a shop shortly before she boarded the bus (PA)

"The events of that day will have a lasting and devastating impact on the many passengers on board the 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.

"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."

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