Hakeem Hussain: Manslaughter-accused mother 'prioritised drugs' – BBC


A mother "prioritised" her drug addiction prior to the "preventable" death of her seven-year-old son, a court has heard.
Hakeem Hussain was found dead in a garden in Birmingham from an asthma attack on 26 November 2017, Coventry Crown Court was told.
Jurors were told he was found without his inhalers after his mother Laura Heath, 39, flouted medical advice.
She denies manslaughter, but has admitted four counts of child cruelty.
They include failing to provide proper medical supervision and exposing Hakeem to class A drugs.
Opening the case against Ms Heath on Monday, prosecutor Matthew Brook said the death happened after Hakeem had been repeatedly absent from school and had three emergency admissions to hospital.
Mr Brook said there had been an "obvious risk" Hakeem might die from an attack if Ms Heath "did not manage his asthma in accordance with the medical advice she received".
"Instead, the defendant deliberately prioritised her addiction to heroin and crack cocaine and flouted the medical advice that she received that would have kept her son's asthma under control," he added.
Hakeem had gone to bed at 22:00 the night before his death, Mr Brook said, with Ms Heath joining him in the same bed "an hour or two later, after she had finished smoking heroin in the living room".
At some stage, he added, Hakeem got out of bed and went outside, which he would do when his asthma was bad.
Usually, Mr Brook said, Hakeem would wake his mother to ask her for his inhaler when he had difficulty breathing.
However, he said, Ms Health had "not come to his aid" and Hakeem's body was found in the garden outside the flat in Cook Street, Nechells, where he and his mother were staying, with "no sign of his asthma medication being with him".
The court heard Ms Heath had been Hakeem's sole carer between May 2016 and November 2017.
During that time, the defendant's "drug addiction intensified" Mr Brook said.
A sample of Hakeem's hair taken after his death showed "significant exposure to heroin, cocaine, and cannabis", the court heard.
Mr Brook claimed Ms Heath, formerly of Long Acre, Nechells, Birmingham, had engaged in sex work to fund her addiction, adding drugs "came before everything else, including Hakeem".
"However, she remained capable of rational decision-making: she was able to source drugs, raise the funds to pay for them by whatever means necessary, and plan to meet dealers and buy drugs from them," he said.
The court heard Hakeem was not sent to school on 24 November – two days before his death – and Ms Heath failed to attend a child protection conference scheduled for the afternoon, which went ahead in her absence.
"It is notable that [the school nurse] recognised that Hakeem was at risk of dying," Mr Brook said.
"She argued that Hakeem should be removed from the defendant's care immediately and that Hakeem could die over the weekend.
"Tragically, although it was concluded that Hakeem was at serious risk, a decision was made not to remove him immediately from the defendant's care."
The trial continues.
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