'Traumatised' mum killed baby in hostel in 'profoundly tragic case'

Gloria Mayele leaves court after being convicted of causing the death of her baby son, Hendjie Kadima
Gloria Mayele leaves court after being convicted of causing the death of her baby son, Hendjie Kadima -Credit:Liverpool Echo

A young mum with a traumatic past killed her baby in dirty asylum seeker accommodation in a "profoundly tragic case".

Gloria Mayele was cleared of manslaughter by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court on March 19 this year in relation to the death of her four-month-old son Hendjie Kadima. However, the jury convicted her on infanticide, nearly seven years on from her son's death, and she appeared back before the same court this morning, Friday, May 17 to be sentenced.

The court was told Mayele, now of Brook Road in Walton, first moved to the UK from her native Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015 after she sought asylum. The court heard the now 34-year-old had fled from her family in her homeland and moved to the UK "alone and isolated" and struggling with her mental health.

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She settled in London where she met her now husband Didier Kadima in 2016 and became pregnant with Hendjie. When her son was born, she was moved to a temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. However, during the trial the court heard from a number of witnesses who "gave evidence about the unsuitability of the accommodation for a new mother and baby" because of dirty bathrooms shared between men and women and sparse facilities for warming baby formula.

She was also struggling with her own health after having emergency caesarean surgery which became infected. Her room was on the first floor of the accommodation which meant she had to carry a pushchair or her son up the stairs to leave the building or go to the dining room.

Mayele's partner Mr Kadima was not allowed to stay overnight at the accommodation and was working on the week of May 22 2017 so could not visit. Jane Osborne KC previously told the jury that on May 26 Mayele approached the front desk of the premises with the "limp and floppy" two-month-old in her arms.

Mayele "described his eyes rolling back and he was rasping for breath". She then located two members of staff outside and told them "baby not well". CCTV cameras located around the hostel showed her "in a rush" to get help for her child and pacing around while rocking the baby as workers called 999.

The actions of the duty manager were described as "heroic in his attempts to keep you calm and keep Hendjie as comfortable as possible". Paramedics arrived at the scene around 15 minutes later and found dried blood around Hendjie's nostrils, but "no obvious injuries".

The youngster subsequently underwent a CT scan and emergency surgery at King's College Hospital following the discovery of a bleed on the brain. An ophthalmologist also found evidence of injuries to the back of the eyes, which were said to have been consistent with suffering a traumatic injury through "sudden and sharp acceleration and deceleration of the brain".

Hendjie died two months later in July 2017. The medical evidence established the cause of his death was a non-accidental head injury as a result of being shaken and/or thrown against a soft object like a mattress. Ms Osborne told jurors that she had "not offered any alternative explanation as to how her son sustained his injuries".

The crown alleged this had been as a result of an assault, which Mayele denied during her trial. Following a three-week trial, Mayele was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of infanticide by a majority jury of 11 to one. This is described as a way in which a woman "can cause the death of their biological children due to imbalances in their mind after not fully recovering from the effect of giving birth".

During this morning's sentencing, Ms Osborne said although infanticide can carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, immediate custodial sentences are rare for the charge and the prosecution did not think one was appropriate. Ms Osborne said the aggravating factors on the case where Hendjie's age and Mayele's position of trust; however, an infanticide case had to involve a child under the age of one and involve the child's mum so "the aggravating features were part and parcel of the offence".

Gloria Mayele, convicted of infanticide, leaves court in Liverpool today
Gloria Mayele leaves court in Liverpool today -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Mayele moved north following the incident and settled in Liverpool. In brief mitigation, Caroline Goodwin KC, defending, said her client had "cooperated with everything" and had engaged repeatedly with social services. She had since had two children with Mr Kadima without issue.

Ms Goodwin said her client now had a "positive family unit" and would soon view a property in the Everton area that would allow her and her family the additional support of both the church and the local school. Ms Goodwin said Mayele was now "looking forward in a positive way".

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Thornton told Mayele this is a "profoundly tragic case". She told the court: "There is no doubt that the death of a child is of the utmost seriousness. As the mobile phone footage and medical evidence show, Hendjie was a healthy baby developing normally, with his whole life ahead of him.

"By their verdict the jury considered that the balance of your mind was disturbed at the time of your offending. In addition, I conclude that you were suffering from PTSD and depression at the time. On any measure, your culpability for your actions is substantially reduced. I have no doubt that you loved Hendjie and did your absolute best to care for him in the challenging circumstances you found yourself in.

"The photos of the room in which you and Hendjie lived show his clothes washed and laid out immaculately. The mobile phone footage of him nuzzling your neck demonstrates the bond between you. For you, Hendjie marked a new and better chapter of your life and the hope of a brighter future after the traumas of your upbringing.

"However, tragically the psychiatric evidence was that the impact of those trauma, alongside the challenges of day to day life [at the accommodation], led to a complete breakdown in your ability to cope at that single point in time when you assaulted your son."

Mrs Justice Thornton added that Mayele's repeated denial of the assault was likely "in order to avoid a catastrophic breakdown" due to it being "so unbearable that the mind unconsciously represses that knowledge". She added: "You did everything you could to assist Hendjie after he became seriously well. I am entirely satisfied that your mitigation is overwhelming."

Mayele, who was assisted in court by a French interpreter, was sentenced to a community order for two years. She was also ordered to carry out a rehabilitation activity requirement for 15 days to support her participation with the Women's Turnaround service for women in Merseyside. Mayele, who was supported in court by her husband, did not react as she was told she could leave the dock.

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