Drug addict mother convicted of fatally neglecting young asthma-suffering son

Laura Heath’s trial heard she ‘prioritised her addiction to heroin and crack’ over that of seven-year-old Hakeem Hussain’s welfare.

22 April 2022

A drug addict mother has been convicted of fatally neglecting her asthma-suffering seven-year-old son after he died alone and “gasping for air” in a garden.

Laura Heath deliberately “prioritised her addiction to heroin and crack cocaine” prior to the “needless, premature” death of Hakeem Hussain from an asthma attack on Sunday November 26 2017, prosecutors said.

An image seen by jurors during the Coventry Crown Court trial showed how Heath had even used foil and an elastic band to rig one of her son’s blue inhalers to smoke crack, fuelling a £55-a-day habit.

Heath, formerly of Long Acre, Nechells, Birmingham, was convicted on Friday of gross negligence manslaughter of “frail” Hakeem, who died at the home of a friend where his mother had been staying.

Laura Heath property
A police photo of Heath’s living room (West Midlands Police/PA)

The 40-year-old had admitted four counts of child cruelty before trial, including failing to provide proper medical supervision and exposing Hakeem to class A drugs.

Social services in Birmingham were aware of Hakeem before his death, and it emerged at Heath’s trial that at a child protection conference on November 24, 2017, just two days before his fatal collapse, a school nurse told the meeting “he could die at the weekend”.

A serious case review into all agencies’ contact with the youngster and his mother, before his death, is set to be published within weeks.

But following the trial, the head of Birmingham Children’s Trust, which took over child social services in early 2018, said there were “clear missed opportunities” in social services’ handling of the case.

Heath will be sentenced next week.

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