The parents of a baby girl have been jailed for causing or allowing the death of a child after they staged her death on an east London bus.
[A] Rosalin Baker, 25 (28.07.91) and [B] Jeffrey Wiltshire, 52 (20.06.64), both of Morris Avenue, E12, were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 18 May for causing or allowing the death, or serious physical harm (contrary to section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victim's Act 2004) of their three-month-old daughter Imani Wiltshire.
Baker and Wiltshire were both sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. The were found guilty of the offence on 20 April at the same court.
Detective Inspector John Marriott, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command said:
“I am pleased with the sentences that have been handed down today and the time both Baker and Wiltshire will serve in prison reflects the offence they were found guilty of.
“Bringing a case of this nature before the courts was a difficult and challenging one but it was only right that justice was sought for Imani.
“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-rendering.
“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.
“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. I would like to thank all those on the bus that day who stepped in to help.
“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. Neither has shown any remorse for their actions.”
The jury heard that Imani, who was born prematurely at 28 weeks on 2 June 2016, had been incubated and ventilated for the 65 days she spent in hospital, with Baker only visiting her daughter on 22 occasions and Wiltshire never visiting. Imani was finally discharged on 5 August 2016 and detectives believe that the abuse began soon after.
At around 09:25hrs on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 Baker entered a convenience store in Church Road, E12, with Imani strapped in a sling and her face covered with a cloth. During court proceedings Baker admitted that Imani was already dead at this point.
The cloth was used to cover Imani’s face in order not to draw attention to the fact she was dead as well as to hide a significant injury to her right eye and a visible head injury. Baker topped up her Oyster card and left shortly afterwards.
Moments later Baker was joined by Wiltshire who helped her board a Route 25 bus heading towards Bow Church. As the two parted ways Wiltshire gave Baker the thumbs up and it is this detectives believe was the signal to begin the ruse.
As Baker took a seat on the lower deck of the bus she began to use her mobile phone. Approximately 20 minutes into the journey Baker looked at her daughter for the first time. She then turned round and beckoned a female passenger over.
The woman made her way over and Baker told her that Imani had stopped breathing. The woman immediately took Imani and tried to provide medical assistance. When she realised that Imani was not responding the bus driver was alerted and another passenger called the London Ambulance Service (LAS) and the police.
A second woman attempted to conduct CPR and when it became apparent that attempts to save Imani were futile, a number of the passengers became distressed.
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.
One of the women who assisted recalled that when she tried to give CPR she noticed that Imani’s lips were cold and that Baker remained on the phone the entire time attempts were made to save her daughter’s life.
The bus was stopped in High Street at the junction with Carpenters Road, Stratford and police and the LAS attended. Imani was taken to an east London hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Medical professionals noticed that Imani was cold to the touch and that the onset of Rigor Mortis had begun.
A special post-mortem examination took place at St Thomas' Hospital on Friday, 30 September and the cause of death was determined as a head injury.
Tests also identified that Imani had at least 40 separate injuries across her tiny 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. On 29 September 2016 Baker gave a prepared statement in which she stated ‘she was in shock’ and that she ‘loved her baby and never hurt her’ and that Imani had a fall a few days previous but Baker thought she was fine.
Both Baker and Wiltshire were charged on 1 October as above.
+ Statement on behalf of Mrs Schmitz, who attempted to save Imani’s life:
“I took the bus to work that day and sat down, it was like any other normal day. I had my headphones on and I was listening to my music. Not long after sitting down a woman called me over, she asked me for my help and told me there was something wrong with her baby.
“I touched Imani and she was very cold, at first I did not think anything of it as it was a cold September day but when the baby did not react I knew something was wrong. I took the baby out of her sling and gave first aid for about ten minutes.
“I had never performed first aid on a baby before but I knew what I was doing. I blew air into Imani’s mouth and pushed onto her little heart but there was no reaction.
“I was in complete shock, it was one of the worse moments of my life. I tried my best but I couldn’t do anything to save Imani’s life.
“The bus was carrying many passengers that day and everyone was in shock. Everyone kept asking me ‘is that your baby’ not realising that Imani’s mother was the one sitting on her phone the entire time. What I don’t understand is that the person who is supposed to protect her child did nothing.
“The events of that day have left me very upset. I don’t understand how someone can hurt a little child like that.
“Many have called me a Good Samaritan and said that I was brave for stepping in. I don’t think I was brave because I couldn’t do anything to save Imani’s life. I keep asking myself why didn’t I do something more to save her life.
“Since the 28 September 2016 I have been unable to sleep. I think about that day all the time. I now take medication to sleep. I can no longer take the bus and whenever I see a small baby I always think of Imani. It just breaks my heart.
“When I think of Baker I can’t call her a mother, she is a monster. Both Baker and Wiltshire are the worse kind of people.”