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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
'Caring father' tortured son to death
By Debabani Majumdar
BBC News, London

Tahla Ikram
Tahla Ikram was seen six times by doctors before his death
Abid Ikram described himself as a caring father whose son Tahla was the "nearest, dearest thing" to him.

He still kept as mementos the tissue papers he used to wipe the boy's tears after his circumcision and the plaster casts that "slipped off" his son's leg the month before his death.

But Ikram, along with his lover Sumairia Parveen, has been convicted of causing or allowing the death of 17-month-old Tahla.

Tahla's injuries were so bad they were described as being similar to someone involved in a car crash, Southwark Crown Court was told.

The toddler had 21 visible injuries, mostly bruises and grazes, but a post-mortem examination revealed broken ribs, multiple leg fractures, most of which doctors said were inflicted in the 12 hours before his death.

The child was taken to Ealing Hospital in west London six times and was seen by at least seven different doctors in the 20 days preceding his death.

But despite knowing the boy's case history and frequent visits, neither social services nor doctors suspected any foul play and the boy died "in extreme pain".

Beaten with bat

The prosecution had accused Ikram of colluding with Parveen to murder his son as he was seen as an "obstacle" in their relationship. But both were cleared of the charge.

Ikram, who once beat his son with a plastic cricket bat on her orders, was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice for sending his lover to Pakistan after his son's death.

Ikram, 31, came to the UK as a student in 1998 from Pakistan.

The part-time minicab driver married Habiba Ikram and in 2001 their daughter was born.

By the time Tahla was born in April 2005, the marriage had broken down, Ikram's daughter was in Pakistan with his family and within months Tahla was handed over to foster carers following concerns about Habiba's mental health.

In June 2005, Tahla was entrusted into Ikram's care and the couple divorced.

Parveen, 24, came to the UK from Pakistan in 2005. She sought shelter with Ikram, who was her second cousin, after her marriage failed.

TAHLA'S INJURIES
Graphics showing injuries to Tahla Ikram
1 - cuts above the eyelids
2 - sections of the right side of 7th, 8th and 9th ribs fractured
3 - scab and damage to the right thumb
4 - bruising around the left ear
5 - bruise under left eye
6 - fracture to the upper end of the tibia
7 - a transverse fracture of the left femur
8 - deep laceration behind the knee, revealing blood vessels
9 - fracture to tibia on left leg

In March 2006 Ikram was cautioned for child neglect after police found Tahla alone at home one night.

Ikram said Parveen, who was pregnant at the time with her husband's child, had fallen ill and he had left to drop her at hospital.

But the couple's close friends, Zubair and Saadia Janjua, testified the couple were out shopping and dining, and they had left him alone at home on previous occasions.

Soon after, Tahla was placed in foster care of Mohammad Khan and his wife, relatives of Habiba.

Testifying in court, Ikram wiped away tears as he recalled taking his son to the foster carers. The jury saw a travel card he used to attend the custody hearing, on which he had written "cried for Tahla".

"I'll show him when he will be older," Ikram told the jury.

Tahla was handed back to Ikram in June, but the foster carers were asked to visit regularly.

On 13 August, hours before the Khans' visit, Tahla fell down which resulted in a broken leg, but the couple's friends and the doctors were given two different versions of the incident.

The doctors and police were told Tahla had fallen from a chair bruising his face and breaking his left leg but their friends were told that Parveen fell on the boy while carrying him down the stairs.

In the days that followed the couple repeatedly rushed the boy to the hospital claiming his cast kept coming off.

On 6 September ambulance crews found Tahla cold, blue and stiff at his home.

They found a distraught father but a "calm" Parveen, who Mr Khan said was more concerned about a "broken toe nail".




SEE ALSO
Baby murder accused 'not upset'
14 Jun 07 |  London

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