A Gravesend resident who murdered his adopted child has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Jan Gholami latest
Jan Gholami

Jan Gholami, aged 33, will have to serve a minimum of 23 years and six months in prison before being considered for parole. His partner, Roqia Ghulami, aged 32, has been jailed for two years for child neglect.

Gholami and Ghulami had adopted two-year-old Zahra Ghulami from Afghanistan, where they both had lived before moving to the United Kingdom.

Roqia Ghulami latest
Roqia Ghulami

On 27 May 2020, Zahra was taken to hospital with serious head injuries and died two days later.

Her adoptive parents were arrested on the same day following concerns raised by medical staff.

Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate launched an investigation and Jan Gholami and Roqia Ghulami were later charged with murder. The pair pleaded not guilty and during the subsequent trial, Gholami stated he had been food shopping and returned home to Oak Road, Gravesend to find Zahra injured. He claimed his partner had been at home with Zahra and had found her at the bottom of the stairs, but did not see her fall. Jan Gholami said he tried to call for an ambulance but did not understand the questions and Zahra was then taken to hospital by taxi.

Doctors found Zahra had suffered a serious head injury and also noted older injuries, including a skull fracture and a healing fracture to her arm and shoulder blade.

Zahra Ghulami latest
Two-year-old Zahra

Evidence from medical specialists concluded the fatal injury was likely to have been caused by Zahra being thrown against the floor or a wall. Doctors noted that there was an absence of bruising on Zahra’s legs or arms, which would have been likely from a fall down a flight of stairs.

During the trial which lasted seven weeks, evidence was also presented of previous incidents where Gholami had been violent towards his partner and, as a result, had served a short jail sentence.

At Maidstone Crown Court on 9 January 2024, Gholami was found guilty of murder and Roqia Ghulami convicted of child neglect. They were both sentenced at the same court on Friday 16 February 2024.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Ross Gurden said:

‘Zahra would have thought she was being cared for by people who loved her. She trusted them but she was betrayed in the most brutal way. Gholami inflicted catastrophic injuries on Zahra, and his partner failed to intervene to help her.

‘This was a long and complex trial and I would like to commend the jury who considered all the evidence before coming to their verdict. This outcome can never bring Zahra back but does ensure those responsible for her death have been brought to justice.’

By Ed

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