Mother convicted of beating daughter, 4, to death ‘was only disciplining’ her, appeals court hears

The parents were arrested after the child, Maryam, died last September of a brain haemorrhage brought about by beatings that caused skull fractures.

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ABU DHABI // A mother convicted of beating her four-year-old daughter to death was simply disciplining the “naughty” child, the Appeals Court heard.

The mother S Q, and father A S, both Emirati, were arrested after the child, Maryam, died last September of a brain haemorrhage brought about by beatings that fractured her skull.

Doctors, who were appalled at how malnourished the child was, alerted police after a post-mortem examination found the fractures had been sustained over several years.

S Q was jailed for 13 years at the Criminal Court in December, while the father received a three-year term for negligence.

However, the woman’s defence lawyer, Fayza Mousa, argued at the court on Tuesday that the child was “extremely mischievous” and did not obey her parents.

“She was kicked out of two preschools and caused five maids to quit,” the lawyer said.

She said parents had the right to discipline their children.

Ms Mousa said that the mother had records to prove that she had to take Maryam with her to her workplace because schools refused to receive her.

“The mother explained in case files that if she did beat her, it was only to discipline her and not severely to hurt her.”

At the couple’s trial in December, the court heard that the mother would starve, beat and imprison the daughter for what she called “mischievous” behaviour – treatment she did not subject her son to.

On the day of her daughter’s death, she left the two children at home with nothing to eat.

When she returned at noon she fed only the son, leaving her daughter to starve as punishment for misbehaving.

At about 9pm, she tried to feed her daughter, but Maryam was unable to digest the food and started vomiting.

She was taken to hospital but died soon after and the extent of her injuries was discovered.

Ms Mousa said that the only time S Q had starved her daughter was on the day of the incident.

“She was a mischievous child, so the mother thought if she deprived her of food she would calm down and start following orders.”

The mother had claimed Maryam’s injuries were caused by a fall, but doctors rejected this.

Ms Mousa said that since the child moved a lot, it “made sense” that she fell and suffered fractures.

A S’s lawyer said his client had nothing to do with the children’s upbringing.

“When he returned home and found his daughter lying on the floor he tried to treat her but failed, so he took her to the hospital,” the lawyer said.

The father was cleared by the Criminal Court of beating his daughter to death, but found guilty of negligence and jailed for three years.

S Q received the maximum punishment for beating Maryam to death – 10 years, and was jailed for an additional three years for failing to treat the injuries.

S Q was also ordered to pay blood money of Dh200,000 to the girl’s father, grandfather and brother, 5. Ms Mousa said this was a breach of the law because a woman’s blood money is half of the man’s.

A verdict is expected on March 11.

hdajani@thenational.ae