A murder case in which a mother killed her baby daughter before fleeing to Kenya and evading police for three years has been featured as part of a BBC One show called Fugitives.
In 2013, following a bitter custody battle, Angela Whitworth used a bin liner to murder her 20-month-old daughter Sarah Dahane at their home in Bicester, before boarding a business class flight that night to Nairobi in an attempt to escape prosecution.
However, she was eventually caught three years later and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment after a £10,000 bounty was put on her head.
Sarah’s dad Nabil Dahane had reported Whitworth to police after she failed to turn up to hand over their daughter for the weekend, fearing a possible issue of child abduction.
Officers were deployed to search the home immediately, with Senior investigating officer Det Supt Ian Hunter expressing concerns about the state they found the house in.
“The living room downstairs was a mess, the kitchen was a complete mess, and there were items all over the floor. When I went upstairs there was a back bedroom, the wardrobe door open and clothes all on the bed. In the front bedroom I saw Sarah, she was on the bed actually looking really, really peaceful. No visible injuries were apparent at all,” he recalled.
The programme showed pictures of the ransacked Bicester home and played a recording of Whitworth booking her business class flight out of the UK from Heathrow Airport.
When she reached Kenya, she phoned her brother back in the UK saying ‘the child is dead’.
Thames Valley Police (TVP) enlisted the help of the National Crime Agency and their Kenyan counterparts for surveillance of Whitworth’s family in Kenya, but after finding nothing, the operation was called off.
After TVP launched a fresh appeal for information with a £10,000 reward in 2016, they received information that Whitworth was living under a new name in Kampala, Uganda.
Working alongside police in Uganda, the 44-year-old’s top floor apartment was raided and found to be in a similar state to her Bicester home.
During her October 2016 trial at the Old Bailey in London, the court heard how the Whitworth smothered the youngster to death with a plastic bag shortly after being told that Oxford Family Court would not approve her plans to take her daughter to live in Kenya and was to continue joint custody with Sarah’s father.
Iain Morley QC, defending, told the court Whitworth planned to commit suicide in Kenya and attempted it two days after Sarah’s death.
Reading a statement from Whitworth, it said: “I understand the pain I have caused and I apologise sincerely from the bottom of my heart.
“I am full of self-loathing, I am horrified at myself.”
Det Supt Hunter said: “Sarah was a happy and carefree little girl who had her whole life ahead of her. She died at the hands of the person who should have been protecting her – her own mother.
“Angela Whitworth received information which, in her mind, gave her the opinion that she would be unlikely to be able to take Sarah to live in Kenya.
“Angela therefore booked herself a business class flight to Nairobi… then killed her daughter before travelling to Heathrow Airport and leaving for Kenya later that day.”
Sentencing Whitworth to a minimum of 15 years for murder, Mr Justice Robin Spencer described her actions as ‘wicked and selfish’.
“You killed her because you believed the family court was not going to let you take her to Kenya to live with you there, but instead was going to let her reside with her father.
“It was a thoroughly wicked and selfish act,” he said.
“You smothered Sarah to death by placing a black plastic bin bag over her head and holding it there until she stopped breathing.
“She must have been terrified and bewildered in her last moments of life,” he added.
During a heart-breaking interview, Mr Dahane said: “Sarah was just my precious little girl, I used to get many hugs and kisses.
“That relationship was fun, laughter, and unconditional love.
“She was my first child ever and I will just always love her.
“I try to come to terms with it all, but I don’t know if I ever will. I just have to live with it.”
The episode of Fugitives is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer (until 26 September 2019).