Father jailed for life for two-year-old adopted daughter murder

Jan Gholami
Jan Gholami claimed he was out food shopping when the incident happened at their home in Gravesend, Kent Police said (Image: Kent Police)

The adoptive father of a two-year-old girl has been jailed for life for her murder.

Zahra Ghulami sustained head injuries at their home in Gravesend on the 27 May 2020 and died two days later.

Medical evidence concluded her fatal injury was likely to have been inflicted by Zahra being thrown to the floor or against a wall.

Jan Gholami, 33, was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court and was also found guilty of cruelty to a child.

A judge said he “habitually” treated female family members in a “brutal and brutish way”, and sentenced him to a minimum of 23-and-a-half years in prison.

Gholami’s wife, Roqia Ghulami, 32, was sentenced to two years in jail after being found guilty of cruelty to a person under 16.

She had previously been found not guilty of murder and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of allowing the death of a child.

The pair Рwho denied all charges Рhad adopted Zahra from Afghanistan, where they both had lived before moving to the UK.

Zahra Ghulami
Zahra suffered a skull fracture caused by “significant impact with significant energy”, jurors heard (Image: Kent Police)


On Friday, Judge Mr Justice Wall said Gholami could have sought help for Zahra by dialling 999 or calling a friend.

He said: “I sentence you not on the basis that your fatal attack was a one-off, but rather that it was the culmination of the brutal and brutish way you habitually treated the female members of your family.”

He said instead of Gholami immediately seeking help, he went to a supermarket.

“You did that while Zahra was on the floor fighting for her life – if there had been any hope of saving her, your actions made it less likely she’d survive,” he added.

Roqia Ghulami
Roqia Ghulami, 32, will serve two years for child cruelty (Image: Kent Police)


Police said evidence was presented during the trial of previous incidents where Gholami had been violent towards his partner and, as a result, had served a short jail sentence.

To Ghulami, Mr Justice Wall said her “criminality was to ensure suffering of your daughter”.

The judge told her: “You were in an abusive relationship and had recently left Afghanistan and had no support outside of him – you had no English and no friends to whom you could turn to help.

“Despite that, you knew that your duty as a mother was to protect your daughter from everything and everyone – and that included your husband.”

Zahra had been described as a “bright, intelligent” child who was “highly curious” and wanted to find out about everything.

During examinations, doctors found evidence of older injuries, which included a skull fracture, and a healing fracture to her arm and shoulder blade, police added.

Following sentencing, Det Insp Ross Gurden said Zahra had been “betrayed in the most brutal way”.

He said: “Zahra would have thought she was being cared for by people who loved her. Gholami inflicted catastrophic injuries on Zahra, and his partner failed to intervene to help her.”

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