Mother jailed for three years for force feeding her baby girl to death
A NURSE was jailed for three years today for killing her baby by force-feeding her in the first case of its kind in Britain.
Gloria Dwomoh, 31, was found guilty at the Old Bailey last month of causing or allowing the death of 10-month-old Diamond.
She was said to be obsessed with Diamond's weight and poured liquidised food down her throat with a jug when she was weaning her.
Diamond died in March last year after being taken to a hospital near her home in Waltham Forest, east London.
A post-mortem examination found she died from pneumonia caused by food, including meat and cereals, in her lungs.
The prosecution said Diamond was forced to take her feed from the jug after the spout was placed in her mouth.
Trevor Burke QC, for Dwomoh, said: "She has endured the loss of her child for over a year. She has been punished enough."
He presented the court with a 1,000-signature petition from family and friends pleading for mercy, and asked the judge to impose a suspended sentence.
But the Common Serjeant of London Judge Brian Barker described Dwomoh's actions as a "misguided obsession".
Judge Barker said: "The forcing of food into your daughter against her natural instincts would have caused her daily distress.
"At best it was a misguided obsession - but a determined obsession - which must have caused daily prolonged distress to your daughter.
"It cannot be described as an act of kindness. It took away her life and that is something you must live with."
He said the practice of feeding by pouring food from a cup or jug into a child's throat was culturally acceptable in some parts of the world.
"In this country the feeding of a child in this way, against its will, is wrong and dangerous," he added.
Dwomoh, who worked at St Thomas' Hospital in London, wept in court as she denied doing anything to harm her baby.
She said she and her siblings had been fed the same way by her mother in Ghana when she was weaning them on to solid food.
On the night Diamond died, she had fed the child, bathed her and put her to bed before going to work.
"I didn't do anything to her. I didn't do anything at all to hurt her," she said as she broke down in the witness box.
Dwomoh showed the jury two small china jugs, the size of cups, which she used for feeding.
She said she made up feeds, including liquidised chicken soup, in one jug and transferred small amounts to feed the girl into the other.
Diamond did not take to the bottle well and she was trying "to give her nutrients rather than milk".
Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, said the food had "gone down the wrong way" over months after the child began coughing and choking.
Mr Edis told the jury: "This is a very sad case. She died because of the method by which her parents chose to feed her at the time she was being introduced to solid food.
"The allegation is one of force-feeding. If you have a child who is distressed and choking, you do not carry on.
"It involved the use of jugs - pouring food into the mouth of the child.
"The spout was placed into the mouth of the child to prevent her closing it when she did not want any more - to prevent her having any choice.
"The mother, she is a nurse, and that involves a degree of extra insight.
"An ordinary mother would think twice or more before using a jug to pour food into the mouth of a child."
Dwomoh had been warned about the feeding method in the past but Diamond, although taken to see doctors, was not on the "at risk" register.
A detective in the case said: "She appeared to be obsessed with Diamond's weight and ignored advice she had been given."
Social workers and health professionals apologised for not saving Diamond, the latest in a line of children let down by professional carers.
A serious case review reported 18 key findings, including the lack of understanding on the issues which should have caused alarm bells to ring.
Laura Eades, chair of Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children's Board, said: "I would like to express our deep regret and sadness for the death of Diamond.
"The death of a child by force-feeding is extremely rare. To our knowledge, this case is the first of its kind in this country and we are determined to learn from the issues that were central to this tragic loss of life.
"The serious case review has found that there were weaknesses and shortcomings in the practice of some of the agencies involved with the family.
"Had best practice been followed, the risk to Diamond of force-feeding would have been better recognised and the family would have been offered further support and intervention.
"As a result of this review, action is being taken on the areas where practice has been identified as needing improvement.
"We are also taking steps to ensure that there is better information nationally available about this rare risk to children."