A woman whose three-year-old daughter was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) has become the first person in the UK to be convicted for the practice.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had her daughter cut at their London home but then called 999 because the girl was bleeding heavily.
Police were alerted by hospital staff who did not believe the woman’s claim that the girl had fallen off a kitchen worktop onto a cupboard door, while trying to get a biscuit.
The 37-year-old mother, from Uganda, maintained her story throughout an Old Bailey trial but was convicted of FGM on 1 February 2019. She wept in the dock as the jury read the verdict.
The girl’s father, a 43-year-old Ghanaian man, was cleared of all charges after less than a day of deliberations.
She will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 8 March, when she faces up to 14 years in prison.
It is the first time anyone has been convicted of FGM offences since the practice was criminalised in the UK in 1985, with laws being expanded in 2003 and 2015.
But police officers were unable to confirm whether the mother had carried out the procedure herself, or had paid a “cutter” who remains at large.
In the third interview with police, the victim said there was a “lady with silver hair” who cut her at home. She said her mum and dad called the woman “a witch”.
DCI Ian Baker told journalists there was not a “definitive conclusion” on who performed the FGM, adding: “Someone cut that child … All the suspects we had evidence against were in that court.”
Blood-stained clothing and towels were found in the family’s washing machine, but no blade was recovered from the home.
Investigators found no traces of blood on the cupboard door that the mother claimed caused her daughter’s injury, or on the kitchen floor.
Prosecutors told the Old Bailey the mutilation took place on 28 August 2017, and that the victim had to undergo emergency surgery.
Police were alerted the following day, after a surgeon at Whipps Cross Hospital found evidence of deliberate excisions using a scalpel, and the girl later said she had been held down and cut.
She has since made a “good recovery” and has been placed in the care of a new family, officials said.