The mother accused of killing her 14-month old daughter told police a priest said her baby was possessed.
UPDATE 23 November: Sofina Nikat has today walked free from court. The mother who admitted suffocating her 15-month-old daughter before throwing her body into a suburban Melbourne creek will be released from custody.
The 24 year old was sentenced to a 12-month community correction order after earlier pleading guilty to infanticide over the April 2016 death of her daughter Sanaya Sahib.
“In the unusual circumstances you have already served 529 days of pre-sentence custody,” Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said.
Justice Lex Lasry told the Victorian Supreme Court that Nikat’s chances of rehabilitation were good, and a community corrections order was appropriate as she had already spent 529 days in prison, reports ABC news.
Zahraa Sahib, Sanaya’s aunt, said the family had “fallen apart” since the little girl’s death.
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“We had no justice for her death,” she said outside court.
“We were expecting something and it just completely failed us, and I don’t think it’s very fair that we’ve lost our little girl and there’s nothing for her.
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“It’s really disappointing, upsetting for our family.”
Previously in March we shared…
A psychiatric report found Sofina Nikat had a ‘disturbed mind’.
Sofina stood trial for allegedly killing her daughter Sanaya Sahib on April 10, 2016 after pleading not guilty to one charge of murder in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, reports Daily Mail.
The 23-year-old had initially said her daughter had been snatched from her pram by an African man who smelled heavily of alcohol but later told Victoria Police she had made up the story ‘because she was scared’, court documents show.
‘Things got way out of hand on that day, and she couldn’t cope,’ a summary of her police interview said.
Ms Nikat told police she put her hand across Sanaya’s mouth and nose and hugged her tight until she couldn’t feel her daughter moving.
She then allegedly walked down to the creek bed and dropped her daughter’s limp body in Darebin Creek near scrubland.
In the days before the incident, Sanaya had suffered a seizure and had been frothing at the mouth.
Ms Nikat also told police her baby would ‘look at the roof and cry and growl’, and she had been advised by a priest that she and her baby were possessed and had negative energy.
She told police she had ‘no other choice as things were getting worse’ and she couldn’t cope.
Murder or Infanticide?
Her defence lawyer Christopher Dane QC told the court in March that two psychiatric assessments by different psychiatrists had come to the conclusion what Ms Nikat did was not murder but infanticide.
A report from consultant psychiatrist Yvonne Skinner found Ms Nikat was not of sound mind during the time her baby died, Mr Dane said, because she had ‘not fully recovered from giving birth’.
‘The balance of mind of Sofina Nikat was disturbed,’ Dr Skinner wrote in the report, Mr Dane said.
‘She is guilty of infanticide and not murder.’
He told the court if Ms Nikat had been charged with infanticide, she would have likely pleaded guilty.
The prosecution argued that there was sufficient evidence to determine the crime was murder, and pointed to the psychiatric reports that described Ms Nikat suffering from a depressive disorder.
Magistrate Luisa Bazzani upheld the murder charge, citing that the psychiatrist’s evidence had not been tested.
The legislation on Infanticide
Section 6 of the Crimes Act 1958 is the relevant legislative provision for Infanticide. It states:
(1) If a woman carries out conduct that causes the death of her child in circumstances that would constitute murder and, at the time of carrying out the conduct, the balance of her mind was disturbed because of-
(a) her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to that child within the preceding 2 years; or
(b) a disorder consequent on her giving birth to that child within the preceding 2 years-
she is guilty of infanticide, and not of murder, and liable to level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum).
(2) On an indictment for murder, a woman found not guilty of murder may be found guilty of infanticide.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention or post natal depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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