News State Victoria News Mother admits killing baby Sanaya in Victoria

Mother admits killing baby Sanaya in Victoria

sofina nikat
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A mother has admitted smothering her 15-month-old daughter and throwing her body in a Melbourne creek.

Sofina Nikat, 24, on Friday pleaded guilty to infanticide over the death of Sanaya Sahib in 2016.

Nikat took the infant to a Heidelberg West park on April 9, 2016 and played with her before covering her airways until the child stopped moving, prosecutor Kerri Judd QC told the Victorian Supreme Court.

“She put her hand over her mouth so as to block the airway,” Ms Judd said.

“She continued to apply pressure until Sanaya could not breathe anymore.

“She then rolled her body into the creek,” she said.

The Fijian-born woman was originally charged with murder but prosecutors earlier in September accepted Nikat had been suffering from a depressive illness at the time Sanaya was killed.

The maximum penalty for infanticide is five years’ imprisonment.

After killing Sanaya, Nikat walked back to the home of a relative and said a man had snatched the girl, Ms Judd said.

Nikat told police a barefoot man of African appearance who smelt of alcohol had snatched Sanaya from her pram.

Police initiated a search with help from members of the public.

A family who had joined the search found Sanaya’s submerged body in the creek in the early hours of the next day.

Nikat continued to say someone had snatched her baby before admitting what she did a week after the killing.

Mother ‘thought her baby was ‘possessed’

“She said she had covered Sanaya’s mouth and nose, and had thrown her into the creek,” Ms Judd said.

“She thought her baby was possessed,” she said.

The prosecutor said a psychologist has found Nikat was suffering from a depressive illness as a consequence of giving birth to Sanaya in January 2015.

Nikat had also separated from Sanaya’s father while she was pregnant and had been living in women’s refuges in the months before she killed her daughter.

A Muslim cleric in Fiji had told Nikat’s parents that Sanaya was “under an evil eye”, prompting the parents to send Nikat an amulet of holy water to be used on the baby.

The plea hearing before Justice Lex Lasry continues.