A mother has been jailed for life for the "tragic" murder of her defenceless 11-week-old son following a "traumatic" investigation.

Mother Eloddie Goncalves-Taborda was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 17 years in prison for the murder of her 11-week-old son, Malik, when she appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday October 20.

At the same hearing, her partner, Muritala Olaiya-Imam, was jailed for ten years for allowing his death.

Both had been convicted of the charges at the conclusion of a seven-week trial at the same court on Wednesday July 26.

The jury also found Goncalves-Taborda, 32, formerly of Harlow, guilty of child cruelty and alongside her partner Olaiya-Imam, 36 formerly of Dagenham.

Both were found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice. They were issued with 10 months in prison each for this offence, to run concurrently.

Around 10am on August 19 2020, emergency services were called to an address in Harlow after 11 week-old Malik was found unresponsive by Goncalves-Taborda.

Sadly, despite the best efforts by paramedics, Malik was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem found he died of a head injury.

Echo: Goncalves-Taborda's partner Muritala Olaiya-Imam has also been jailedGoncalves-Taborda's partner Muritala Olaiya-Imam has also been jailed (Image: Essex Police)

When questioned by police, Goncalves-Taborda stated that she awoke at 9.30am to find her baby son lifeless in bed beside her and that she contacted ambulance immediately.

As part of the police investigation, Goncalves-Taborda was required to provide a sample of urine for drug and alcohol analysis.

Officers discovered she had plotted with partner Olaiya-Imam to contaminate her sample by mixing their urine samples. A blood sample provided by Goncalves-Taborda identified the presence of cannabis and alcohol, placing her one-and-a-half times over the legal drink drive limit.

Upon examination, Malik’s small body had 21 rib fractures, broken wrists and his skull was fractured in two places. The injuries were indicative of shaking and a blunt impact trauma to his head.

Expert evidence at the six-week trial confirmed that his injuries were more likely non-accidental, the majority of which were caused between two and 12 hours prior to his death. The baby’s left wrist was fractured 3 to 6 days prior to death.

Throughout the investigation by Essex and Kent Police’s Serious Crime Directorate (SCD), both mother and father denied responsibility for Malik’s death and attempted to pervert the course of justice.

Eloddie Goncalves-Taborda, while she was interviewed by detectives multiple times over an 18-month period, continued to deny responsibility for causing Malik’s death, going as far as to blame an unknown intruder for her son’s death. Detectives did not find any supporting evidence for this claim.

Father Muritala Olaiya-Imam told the investigating team during interviews that, although he wasn’t present at the time of Malik’s death, he was distraught and loved his son. He denied being involved in any child cruelty and that he was unaware of the earlier wrist fracture.

Following a lengthy investigation, detectives later charged Goncalves-Taborda with Malik’s murder and child neglect, while Olaiya-Imam was charged with allowing the death of a child. Both were charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Both parents denied the charges when they appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on January 19 2022, electing to stand trial, and both were remanded in custody.

'Malik died at the hands of those who should have cared for him most'

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Truss, who led the investigation, said at the time of conviction: “The death of a young child is and will always be immensely tragic and our thoughts remain with Malik’s wider family at this difficult time. Malik died at the hands of those who should have cared for him most.

“This lengthy, sensitive investigation was difficult for all those involved. But I am proud that everyone acted with determined professionalism and focussed on what really mattered – securing justice for the death of their defenceless baby son.”

'Parents found guilty of horrific injuries'

Following sentencing, Detective Sergeant Mike Ferguson, SCD, added: “These convictions are a result of a three-year investigation undertaken by Essex Police.

“We presented the evidence to the judge and jury who listened carefully, shocked at our findings, but who ultimately found the parents guilty of the horrific injuries and circumstances that led to Malik’s untimely death.

“This was a particularly traumatic, challenging, and difficult investigation. It involved a number of teams across the force and was supported by the expertise and conclusions of medical experts from around the country that provided the much-needed evidence to challenge the parents claims and secure the convictions.

“I would like to highlight the professionalism of the officers who responded to the initial report involving concerns for Malik’s welfare: they did an incredible job under the most difficult and emotional of circumstances.

“The investigation team meticulously reviewed all of the evidence and I wish to thank them for their dedication to securing justice for Malik, and all of the court staff who handled such an emotional case excellently.”

During the trial, Eloddie Goncalves-Taborda had the opportunity to give evidence, but she chose not to. She was also convicted of assault on an emergency worker.