London, Jan. 8: A mother who beat her seven-year-old son to death when he failed to learn passages from the Quran sobbed in the dock yesterday as she was ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years in jail.
Sara Ege, 33, was given a life sentence for murdering her son, Yaseen, and four years for attempting to pervert the course of justice, to be served concurrently.
Cardiff Crown Court was told that Ege, a maths graduate originally from India, had ambitions for her son to become a Hafiz, someone who can recite the Quran from memory.
Despite enrolling him in special lessons at a mosque, Yaseen struggled. The court was told that Ege admitted using a stick to hit her son and then setting fire to his body when he died after one particularly savage beating.
Sentencing her, Judge Justice Wyn Williams told her: “This was a dreadful crime. In killing your son you abused a precious relationship of trust which does and should exist between a parent and a child.”
Ege, wearing a grey head-dress, broke down as relatives called out to her from the public gallery. During her trial, she withdrew her videotaped confession and tried to blame the killing on Yaseen’s father, Yousef, who was charged as an accomplice but acquitted of any offence.
The fire at the family home in Pontcanna, Cardiff, was originally thought to be an accident but a post-mortem examination revealed that Yaseen was dead when it started. The pathologist found evidence of broken bones and internal injuries.
Ian Murphy, for the prosecution, said: “He had suffered significant abdominal injuries that were the cause of his death. Sara Ege made no attempt to seek the medical attention he so obviously needed. He clearly suffered terribly.”
Peter Murphy, for the defence, said that Ege had been a loving mother with high expectations. He said: “It’s very easy to be critical of the amount of things Ege was doing but that was the norm in the ethnic community she was from.”
But he added: “Because of problems she had with her own mental health and driven by what she wanted for her child, she went over the edge. The effect on her has been absolutely devastating.”
In a police interview, Ege said she had been getting more and more frustrated with her son’s inability to learn. She said: “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 learnt a chapter.”
Even when she took her frustration out on her son, he would not complain. She said: “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.”
After the hearing Yousef paid tribute to his son’s “beautiful nature”. He said: “My memories of my son are that he was a beautiful little boy, a very happy boy who was decent and polite.”