A mother found guilty of female genital mutilation (FGM) against her young daughter has been jailed for 11 years.
The 37-year-old woman, who cannot be named, was found guilty of FGM under Section 1 of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, on Friday, 1 February at the Old Bailey after a two-and-a-half week trial.
It was the first ever FGM conviction in the UK secured after a long and complex Met Police investigation.
Today Friday, 8 March, she was sentenced at the same court to 11 years’ imprisonment.
She was also sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for distribution of indecent images of children and extreme pornography, which will run consecutively to the 11-year sentence.
During the trial, the court heard that the woman was arrested after she brought the daughter, aged three, to hospital over the 2017 August Bank Holiday with serious injuries which doctors later said were consistent with FGM.
In a 999 call and in subsequent accounts given to officers, the mother said that the victim injured herself after falling onto an open kitchen cupboard door from a counter top at her home.
This version of events was later discredited by medical professionals who assessed the girl’s injuries and determined that they could not have been caused in this way.
The victim gave the same account to officers during video-recorded interviews, but she later told a foster carer that she had been held down and cut.
The court heard that the injuries were deliberately inflicted by someone using a very sharp implement in the 12 hours before the girl was taken to hospital.
Two cow’s tongues with nails through them, and 40 limes containing messages on small pieces of paper were found in a freezer at the mother’s home after her arrest, in what was said to be linked to a witchcraft spell or practice against people connected with the investigation.
Excerpts from the handwritten text in the messages are as follows:
"I freeze your mouth, don’t ever talk about me, shut up shut up shut up”
"I freeze u mouth never to talk about me mention anything about me"
"To everyone who I don't know who talk about I have freezed u mouths"
"I freeze u lips u words everything you say about me"
The investigation was led by Detective Sergeant Mark Anderson, Detective Sergeant Lauren Brady, Detective Constable Laura Welham and Detective Constable Mark Crane of the Met’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command.
The mother was interviewed several times after their arrest, and denied any involvement. Charges were authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions in August 2018.
During the trial, the mother maintained that the injuries had been caused by the girl falling.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Baker, of the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command, said: “Today’s sentencing brings to a close an appalling case where a young girl has suffered life-changing FGM injuries at the hands of her mother.
“While she may never recover from the emotional trauma of what has happened to her, she is now safely being cared for and we hope that she and her sibling can start to rebuild their lives.
“The jail sentence handed down reflects the severity of the offence – in passing sentence the Judge reiterated that the victim was particularly vulnerable due to her age and that the mother betrayed the trust of the victim as it happened at home where she should have been safe. The sentence also shows the strength of the case painstakingly built by detectives.
“It has been an extremely challenging investigation, and it has further strengthened our commitment to investigating FGM and bringing prosecutions where there is strong evidence in order to keep young people safe.
“In this and other cases, the Met has worked with partners across social care and the health service to identify and safeguard victims and children at risk of FGM and other harmful practices, and look to hold offenders to account.”
If you know someone who you believe to be at immediate risk of FGM, call 999 immediately. If you have concerns about the welfare of any young person, or you have information about FGM-related offending, you can call police or the NSPCC FGM Helpline on 0800 028 3550.
+ A 43-year-old man, a co-defendant in this case and the father of the victim, was found not guilty of FGM after the trial.
++ At today's hearing, the 43-year-old man was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment for possession of indecent images of children.