Why did Sara Ege beat ‘always smiling’ son for months before killing him?
SARA Ege, 33, beat her son, Yaseen, to death in 2010. She then burnt his body. Yaseen was 7. At Cardiff Crown Court, she’s been sentenced to life behind bars. Sara Ege was born in India. She wanted her son to be a hafiz. For that, he needed to learn the Koran off by heart.For three months, Sara Ege beat her son with a wooden pestle at the family home in Pontcanna, Cardiff.
The words of Peter Murphy, defending, are odd:
“It’s very easy to be critical of the amount of things Yaseen was doing, but that was the norm in the ethnic community she was from. You can see this from the number of other children who were doing Arabic and Koran classes. Yaseen grew up with it and he thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Thank god that wasn’t believed. It’s the norm for children to study at church and temple. The word “community” is overused. It implies an innate cohesion, as if there are regular meetings. In making the killer an integral part of an ethnic community, we’re being invited to look at her culture. This was no honour killing, which often have more in common with crimes of passion than a cultural rite. This was filicide. This was the murder of an innocent child.
“Because of problems she had with her own mental health, and driven by what she wanted for her child, she went over the edge and this tragedy occurred. The effect on her has been absolutely devastating. She was a brilliant and loving mother who did everything for her child. One of the tragedies of this case is that, having fought so hard for this child, she lost him in this way.”
So much for community. Sara Ege is an individual. She told police:
“We had a high target. I wanted him to learn 35 pages in three months. I promised him a new bike if he could do it. But Yaseen wasn’t very good – after a year of practice he had only learned a chapter…I was getting very wild and I hit Yaseen with a stick on his back like a dog. He would be doing his work and wouldn’t complain and I would hit and hit him more and more. He was a good boy, but I used to get angry and he wouldn’t even stop me or say anything to anyone.”
So. The lad was pressurised and beaten for three months by his mother. Who knew?
Yaseen’s Arabic teacher, Amina Shabaan, goes on the record:
“He was one of the best children ever. Yaseen was a boy who loved to learn, he was always happy, he was a very good boy, very intelligent and very polite.”
Ann James, head teacher at Radnor Primary School in Cardiff where Yaseen was a pupil, added:
“He was a delightful little boy and beautifully behaved who always had a smile on his face. It was a pleasure having him in school with us.”
Cardiff’s local safeguarding children board says Yaseen’s death could not have been predicted.
The BBC reports:
Outlining the background, it says in 2003 – seven years before Yaseen was murdered – reports of concern about domestic violence were made to the women’s safety unit. But they were not reported to the police or Cardiff Council’s children’s services. In 2007 when further reports of domestic violence were made, there were delays in making referrals to children’s services. When the referral was received by children’s services it was not possible initially to contact the family because they were away from the UK for several weeks. The police and children’s services tried to follow up the concerns when they returned but the mother declined the offers of intervention and said the matter had been resolved.
There has been a review:
The review also said that after Yaseen started school, there were “one or two occasions” when teachers became concerned about his health and wellbeing.
What about him always smiling?
The serious case review panel found evidence that several agencies and individual professionals had worked with “considerable dedication and concern to support the mother”. However, it was found that the efforts were not part of a co-ordinated plan and the “extent of the mother’s social and cultural isolation, and the possibility that Yaseen might be at risk of significant harm within the family, was not realised or understood”.
Cultural isolation from which culture? Islam? British? The language belies a desire on the part of the authorities to engage with these ethnic minority communities. The effect is for immigrant s to feel yet more marginalised. They become a special case. The deranged woman who murdered her child becomes a stereotype.
Nick Jarman, chair of the Cardiff Local Safeguarding Children Board, adds:
“I am deeply saddened by the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Yaseen. The review has highlighted learning for agencies around the crucial area of safeguarding which are already being implemented. Knowledge and understanding in respect of safeguarding children is an area where continuous improvement is essential and the lessons learned from this review will contribute to practice development across agencies involved in working with children.”
In sentencing Ege to a minimum term of 17 years, plus four years for perverting the course of justice, Mr Justice Wyn Williams said:
“I am satisfied that it was his failure to learn the Koran that day that resulted in the beating that caused his death… On the day of Yaseen’s death you had kept him home from school so he could devote himself to his study of the Koran. He was memorising passages but on that day Yaseen must have failed in some way and it was that which was a trigger for the beating. You killed your own son. At the time of the killing he was particularly vulnerable because of his age and because of his relative physical frailty. In killing your son you abused a precious relationship of trust which does and should exist between a parent and a child.”
“I accept you were a devoted and caring mum. Except for the obsession with Yaseen learning you did many fine things to bring him up as a young boy.”
Apart from beating him to death, she was a decent mum.
The message that no-one could have known nor predicted the awful event is more joined up than the agencies hat might have stepped in to save Yaseen.
Ege accused husband Yousef Ege, 38, who stood trial with his wife, of being a violent bully who beat her and was their son’s real killer. But he was cleared of causing or allowing his son’s death at home in Pontcanna, Cardiff, south Wales, by failing to act to prevent it.
Such are the facts…