The adoptive father of a two-year-old girl has been found guilty of her murder. The toddler Zahra Ghulami was taken to a hospital in Dartford on Wednesday 27 May 2020 after sustaining serious head injuries at her home in Gravesend but she died in a London hospital, two days later, on Friday 29 May.

Jan Ghalami latest WM
Jan Gholami

On Tuesday 9 January 2024, and following a seven-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court, her adoptive father, Jan Gholami, was found guilty of her murder and also child neglect. Zahra’s adoptive mother, Roqia Ghulami, was also found guilty of child neglect.

The pair had adopted Zahra from Afghanistan, where they had both previously lived, before settling in the United Kingdom.

They were arrested on the same day Zahra was taken into hospital, following concerns about her injuries which were raised by medical staff.

Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate subsequently launched an investigation and following Zahra’s death, Jan Gholami and Roqia Ghulami, both 32, were subsequently charged with murder, which they both denied.

During the trial the court heard how Jan Gholami claimed he had been out food shopping and returned home to Oak Road, Gravesend, where he found Zahra injured.

Zahra Ghulami latest
Zahra Ghulami

Jan told officers that Roqia had been at home with her and she had found Zahra at the bottom of the stairs, but did not see her fall. He tried to call for an ambulance but because he does not speak English, he did not understand their questions.

He called a taxi, driven by a family friend, who took them to hospital while Roqia stayed at home with the couple’s three other children.

Zahra arrived at hospital with a serious head injury and during examinations doctors found evidence of older injuries, which included a skull fracture, and a healing fracture to her arm and shoulder blade. Medical evidence provided by specialists concluded that the fatal injury was likely to have been caused by Zahra being thrown to the floor or against a wall, with doctors noting that there was no bruising on Zahra’s legs or arms, which is likely when a person falls down a flight of stairs.

During the trial the jury heard of previous incidents involving the couple including one where Jan was witnessed to have assaulted Roqia in the street. He had served a short jail term in connection with these incidents.

They are both due to be sentenced on Friday 16 February.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Ross Gurden said:

‘Zahra had her life taken away from her by two people who had a responsibility to love and care for her.
‘Jan inflicted the injuries on Zahra whilst Roqia was completely aware of his behaviour and failed to intervene and prevent Zahra from being injured.

‘Zahra would have been six now, she would have started school and would be learning about the world around her, but instead her young life was cut short through violence inflicted by Jan, who should have been caring for her.

‘I want to commend the jury who were a part of this trial. Incidents like this are thankfully rare but they played a hugely important role in securing justice for the very people who betrayed Zahra.’

By Ed

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