The Central Criminal Court. Picture: File photo
The wife of a man, who spent 16 years in jail for the murder of his infant son, has told a court that she always believed her husband could not have known what he was doing and she would not have been in his apartment "for one second" if she thought he was capable of hurting their son.
"I will live with the guilt of being there that night as long as I live but I had to forgive myself," Amanda Bailey told the Central Criminal Court in a victim impact statement today, Friday, December 20.
The defendant, Yusif Ali Abdi, was committed to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) this morning having been found not guilty of the toddler's murder by reason of insanity last week following a retrial.
Mr Abdi was tried before the Central Criminal Court in 2003 for the murder of his son, where a jury rejected his insanity defence and found him guilty of murder by a majority verdict. He subsequently spent 16 years in jail before his murder conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal earlier this year after the court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2013.
Mr Abdi (46), with an address at Charleville Road, Phibsboro, Dublin 7 was last week found not guilty by reason of insanity of murdering 20-month-old Nathan Baraka Andrew Ali at The Elms, College Road, Clane, Co Kildare on April 17, 2001. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Four consultant psychiatrists gave evidence in the retrial that Mr Abdi was suffering from schizophrenia in 2001 and met the requirements for the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Evidence was also given in the case that Mr Abdi came from Somalia to Ireland in 1997 and was granted refugee status in 2000. He married Irish woman Amanda Bailey and they had a son Nathan, who was born in August 1999.
A pathologist told his retrial that baby Nathan died from head injuries which were most likely caused from his head impacting at least three or four times against a hard surface such as a wall or floor.
The wife of the defendant, Amanda Bailey, gave evidence in the case, telling the jury that the way her husband has been treated is "beyond cruel" and that no one deserves to suffer in the way he has.
Taking the stand this morning, Ms Bailey told Mr Justice Alexander Owens that she would like to read the victim impact statement as she said the trial had never been about herself and Nathan.
Delivering her victim impact statement, Ms Bailey said that her life changed forever on April 17 2001, when she found her “beloved son” Nathan dead.
The Central Criminal Court trial heard that on the night of the killing, Ms Bailey and Nathan visited Mr Abdi in his apartment at Clane. Mr Abdi removed his son from his mother's bed around 4am and took him to the living room, where he locked the door and a number of loud bangs were subsequently heard. When Ms Bailey gained access to the room, the child's body was limp, his head was swollen and he had blood in his nose. Ms Bailey failed to find a pulse on her son and he was pronounced dead at 5.30am that morning.
Ms Bailey said today that the name Nathan means “gift from God” and that is what her son was as he gave her the "gift of being a mother and experiencing pure love".
“Nathan was a beautiful child with brown shining eyes and smiles that were constant. People often commented that there was something about him, a maturity as if he had been here before,” she explained.
Ms Bailey said that Nathan called her parents "Bibi and Babu", which is the Swahili for grandmother and grandfather. “He loved our family dog ‘Tink’ because he couldn’t say Twink and he imitated my mum by clapping his hands at the back door to call her. He loved life like any 20-month-old toddler, every day was an adventure,” she continued.
Ms Bailey emphasised in her victim impact statement that one does not recover from the loss of a child and the grief becomes a part of the person. “I probably lost about two years of my life, there are months I don’t remember, they were a haze of medication. I do remember the day I chose to live to ensure the memory of my beautiful son lived. It was a conscious decision that I had to survive and not let the pain overtake me,” she explained.
The mother said she always believed that her husband Yusif could not have known what he was doing and she would never have been in their apartment for one second if she thought he would have hurt their son. “I will live with the guilt of being there that night as long as I live but I had to forgive myself. In the weeks that followed Nathan’s death, I visited Yusif in prison and met with his doctors to try and understand what had happened. They just saw a man who told inconsistent stories and I was an unqualified witness,” she said.
“As the years have passed, I’ve watched children born the same year as Nathan grow up as he never could. I cannot describe the pain when I received a letter to say he had a place in the school I had chosen for him. I watched these children grow into teenagers having experiences Nathan never could. They became 18, 19, 20 and Nathan never did,” she continued.
Ms Bailey said she has endured three trials since 2003, the first trial could not reach a verdict, a second trial found Mr Abdi guilty of murder and a third trial found the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. “I know I only needed to be in court to give my evidence but I felt the need to hear all the evidence and to represent Nathan,” explained Ms Bailey.
Ms Bailey said she went on to have a second son, who turned ten years of age at the beginning of December. “He has always known he has a brother who died. We have photos of Nathan at home and I’ve always talked about him. In September, when he filled out the family section in his school journal he put [the number] one beside brother,” she stated.
Ms Bailey said she has always been very vague about how Nathan died and her other son presumed he had been sick. “When the third trial came up, originally [scheduled for] in May, I had to sit my nine-year-old down and explain that I would have to go to court,” she continued.
Ms Bailey said the last six months have been “extremely difficult” for her. “It’s hard to explain grief, it’s as if physically my body has returned to the stress of the early years after Nathan died, triggered by the return to court. I have had symptoms of anxiety and been unable to sleep. When something as horrific as the murder of a child occurs, people don’t know what to say to you. They cross the road to avoid having to say anything,” she stressed.
Ms Bailey said that for years when people asked her if she had children, she would say no and feel guilty for denying Nathan. Ms Bailey went on to say that she feels a slight sense of peace with the conclusion of the trial and the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
“Many people don’t understand why I care what happens to Yusif after what he did but I have consciously tried not to let Nathan’s death change the person that I am. I do not want to be filled with anger and hatred. I choose to live my life with gratitude for every minute and with a fundamental belief in justice,” she concluded.
In summary, Ms Bailey thanked all those who have supported her "in the darkest of times".
Following this, prosecution counsel Seamus Clarke SC called Dr Ronan Mullaney, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), to report on Mr Abdi's condition.
Dr Mullaney said he had completed a report on Mr Abdi having interviewed him on December 17 and 19. He said he had also had access to reports from other consultant psychiatrists, who gave evidence in the case as well as the defendant's medical records from the CMH.
Dr Mullaney said Mr Abdi suffers from schizophrenia, which is an enduring psychotic illness and he has been admitted to the CMH on three previous occasions. The witness said the risk of Mr Abdi relapsing can be reduced with a treatment plan as well as getting inpatient treatment in a designated centre.
The witness said he assessed Mr Abdi for the purposes of preparing the report and found he suffers from a mental disorder but has limited insight into his illness.
Mr Abdi is in need of inpatient care and treatment in a designated centre, said Dr Mullaney, adding that his condition will be reviewed by the Mental Health Review Board.
Mr Justice Alexander Owens noted that he had heard the evidence from Dr Mullaney and considered his report and was satisfied that Mr Abdi was suffering from a mental disorder. Following this, the judge made an order committing Mr Abdi to the CMH for inpatient care.
At the outset of the retrial, defence counsel Barry White SC made a number of admissions of fact to the court on behalf of his client including that the accused man caused fatal injuries to his son on April 17, 2001 and rang 999 that night requesting an ambulance for his son.
The four-day retrial also heard that a psychiatrist who gave evidence at the 2003 trial that Mr Abdi was not suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was now of the view that the man displayed early signs of the mental disorder at the time. Dr Damian Mohan, a consultant psychiatrist at CMH, told the court that he now had the benefit of three admissions of the accused to the facility following his murder conviction in 2003, which he did not have at the time.
Defence counsel Barry White SC said in his closing speech that Dr Mohan had been "man enough" to say he made a mistake as to Mr Abdi's mental disorder after being persuaded by reports from other psychiatric experts in the field.