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Father sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his two-year-old daughter

|News, Violent crime

A father convicted of murdering his two-year-old daughter, who died after sustaining catastrophic brain injuries, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Zahra Ghulami was taken to Darenth Valley Hospital on 27 May 2020 by her father Jan Ali Gholami. She was unresponsive and had a large swelling to the back of her head. He told staff she had injured herself when she fell downstairs at home, while he was out shopping.

However, a trial at Maidstone Crown Court heard that he had set out to create a false alibi, photographing one of his other children just before he left the house to go that morning. When arrested by police, he produced the shopping receipt and said that there were cameras there to prove he was not at home when Zahra fell. 

Zahra died two days later in King’s College Hospital and a post mortem showed various earlier suspicious injuries, including a similar traumatic brain injury that was likely to have happened a few days earlier when Jan’s wife Roqia, and mother of Zahra, was in hospital giving birth.

Zahra had also suffered a fracture to her upper arm weeks before her death, an unusual injury in a child, which would have left her in pain and reluctant to move the arm.  However, despite this, neither of her parents contacted any medical professional to seek help. Roqia was convicted of child cruelty and was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Jan Ali Gholami will serve a minimum term of 23 and a half years.

Will Bodiam from CPS South East said: “Tragically the injuries that Zahra suffered on that fateful morning were the latest in a series of attacks that had been inflicted on her in the previous days and weeks.”

“The claims the defendants made that Zahra had fallen down the stairs were simply untrue, with expert evidence showing that none of the usual bruising that you would expect from a fall around the knees, elbows or shoulders were present. “

“Roqia claimed she had called her husband while he was out shopping, but there was no such call on her mobile phone.”

“Instead, the truth was much more horrific, with Zahra likely to have been thrown to the floor or against a wall. It would have been immediately obvious that she had been seriously injured in this attack.”

“Jan immediately set about trying to prove his false alibi as soon as he was arrested, producing the receipt from his shopping trip and telling officers that there were cameras in the shop to prove he was not at home when Zahra fell. However, the jury saw through those lies.”

Notes to editors

  • Following an eight-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court from November 2023 to January 2024, Jan Ali Gholami [DOB: 01/01/1991] was convicted of murder and child cruelty and Roqia Ghulami [DOB: 03/07/1991] was convicted of child cruelty.
  • Will Bodiam is a Senior Crown Prosecutor within the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit.

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