British pilot who ‘crushed the brains’ of baby daughter in luxury hotel jailed

A British commercial pilot has been jailed for 20 years after beating his one-year-old daughter to death while drunk at a luxury hotel in Kazakhstan.

Airbus captain Mohamed Barakat, 42, "crushed the brains" and fractured the skull of little Sophia by banging her head against a wall in October 2019, a court ruled.

A Kazakh judge rejected the London-born pilot's claim that Sophia was fatally injured in an "accident" after he suffered an "epileptic fit".

Her wounds were caused by "repeated impact with hard objects and surfaces, and could not be obtained from a fall," judge Bakhytkhan Bakirbayev said, adding there was "no evidence" her father suffered from epilepsy.

Barakat looked stunned at the verdict in the Zoom trial at Almaty city court.

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His Kazakh wife Madina, 23, cried and covered her face, having earlier changed her own testimony and called on the judge to find Bakarat not guilty.

She said she wanted to have more children with him and that he had accidentally hurt their daughter while having a seizure.

Barakat – a pilot employed by a subsidiary of Hong Kong Airlines – will serve his entire jail sentence in Kazakhstan jail, and upon his release, he will be banned from entering the country for five years.

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His guilt was proved "by the testimony of a witness – a maid who heard the sounds of banging on the wall, after which the crying of the child fell silent," according to a court statement.

Madina had earlier fled their room in the five-star InterContinental Hotel in Almaty after Bakarat beat her in the early morning of 24 October last year.

The maid went into the room and picked up Sophia who was lying on the floor.

Shocking CCTV evidence showed how his wife then carried the "motionless" and "blue" baby to the lobby, where she was heard to shout "he killed my child, he hit her," according to one hotel staff member.

Madina collapsed in the lobby as staff called medics who found the baby to be dead.

A receptionist had recalled how Sophia was "always smiling" after the family checked into the plush hotel.

Barakat received a maximum sentence under the criminal code because of the "aggravating circumstance" of committing the murder "in a state of alcoholic and drug intoxication," said the statement.

The trial heard evidence that the Airbus captain – flying cargo planes at the time of the incident – had a secret stash of cannabis in his hotel room, and had previously taken cocaine.

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He was also ordered to pay his wife £135 compensation, a sum that is likely to have been significantly higher if she had filed a civil suit against him.

The pilot was given 15 days to appeal the conviction and sentence.

Barakat had earlier told the court: "Just because you have the power to put me in prison, that doesn't mean you have the power to make me guilty.

"It means you will put an innocent man in prison… I would never hurt my own daughter."

He added: "I was the first person who saw Sophia coming into this world. I was going to teach her how to fly…"

His legal team claimed dozens of procedural errors in the criminal investigation and the court case meant that Barakat did not receive a fair trial.

Barakat's lawyers made repeated attempts without success to seek a fresh investigation and replace the judge.

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