Woman jailed for baby daughter's murder - Bicester

21/10/2016

A woman appeared at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) today, Friday, 21 October 2016, and was jailed for life and is to serve a minimum of 15 years for the murder of her 20-month-old daughter, Sarah Dahane, in Bicester in May 2013.

Angela Whitworth, aged 44, formerly of Herald Way, Bicester, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to the murder at the Central Criminal Court on 26 August 2016.

Whitworth travelled from Heathrow to Kenya on 15 May 2013, and police received a call the following day, from a relative of Whitworth, concerned about Sarah's welfare.

Thames Valley Police's Major Crime unit launched a murder investigation after Sarah was found deceased at her house in Herald Way, Bicester, on 16 May 2013. Sarah had been in the care of her mother at the time of her death.

Following an international public appeal for information about Whitworth's whereabouts, detectives travelled to Uganda where they detained her on 9 March 2016. Whitworth was deported from Uganda to the UK and appeared at Oxford Magistrates' Court on 24 March charged with murder.

Kirsty Allman, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This was a terrible crime, which led to the untimely death of 20-month-old Sarah Dahane at her home in Bicester in May 2013.

"On 16 May 2013, Angela Whitworth failed to take her daughter, Sarah, for agreed contact with her father.  After making several attempts to contact Whitworth, he called police to report the possible abduction of his daughter.  Following concern for her welfare, police forced entry to Sarah's home in Herald Way, Bicester, where they discovered her body on a bed.  Sarah had been in the care of her mother, Whitworth, at the time of her death.  It was quickly established that Whitworth had fled the country on a flight to Kenya on 15 May 2013.  It is impossible to imagine a more vulnerable victim.

"The relationship between Whitworth and Sarah's father broke down before she was born.  Whitworth was keen to raise Sarah in Kenya, but Sarah's father, who had a good relationship with her, wanted to continue being part of her life.  The motive for the murder is believed to be Whitworth's reaction to receiving an email from her solicitor containing a copy of a report that had been sent to the family court recommending that Sarah lived with her father in the UK.

"This was an extremely difficult and complex case to prosecute.  Without any eye witnesses, we needed lengthy and highly technical evidence to help provide an explanation as to how this little girl died.  This evidence enabled the prosecution to piece together what had happened and exclude any possible innocent explanation for her death.

"Through joint agency working, Whitworth was arrested in Uganda on 09 March this year, her deportation was ordered and she was returned to the UK to face the charges. She first appeared at Oxford Magistrates' Court on 24 March 2016, and then appeared at the Central Criminal Court on Friday, 26 August 2016, where, due to the strength of evidence against her, and recognising that justice had caught up with her, she pleaded guilty to murder.

"We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved for Sarah. I hope that the conviction and sentence will in some way help her family come to terms with this tragic event.  However, no matter how long the prison sentence is, I acknowledge that nothing can make up for the loss of Sarah. Our thoughts are very much with her family at this time."

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Ian Hunter said: "Sarah was a happy and carefree little girl who had her whole life ahead of her. She died at the hands of the person who should have been protecting her - her own mother.

"On that day, 15 May 2013, Angela Whitworth received information which, in her mind, gave her the opinion that she would be unlikely to be able to take Sarah to live in Kenya. Angela therefore booked herself a business class flight to Nairobi. It is my belief that when the ticket was booked, Sarah was still alive. Angela then killed her daughter before travelling to Heathrow Airport and leaving for Kenya later that day.

"The following day when Angela arrived in Kenya, she contacted a relative who became concerned for Sarah's welfare and reported her fears to police. Thames Valley Police officers then discovered Sarah's body on a bed inside her home in Bicester.

"This has been a complex and challenging investigation and we have worked tirelessly for more than three years to ensure Angela Whitworth was brought before a UK court to establish the truth about what happened on that day. Whitworth admitted murdering her daughter in an act which I truly believe was needless, selfish and wicked.

"Thames Valley Police received extensive support from our police colleagues in Uganda, from Interpol, the National Crime Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service to conduct the international operation to arrest Whitworth in Uganda. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved throughout the investigation.

"I hope now that Sarah's father, and all those who knew and loved Sarah, will be able to move forward from this tragic point in their lives."