No jail for Melbourne woman who killed her baby

Sofina Nikat, who smothered her baby daughter Sanaya before dumping her body in a creek in April 2016, has walked free from court. 

Family members are upset a mother who suffocated her 15-month-old daughter in Melbourne was spared extra jail time after pleading guilty to infanticide.

Sofina Nikat has pleaded guilty to infanticide over the 2016 death of her 15-month-old daughter.

Sofina Nikat has pleaded guilty to infanticide over the 2016 death of her 15-month-old daughter.

Sofina Nikat, 24, was on Thursday sentenced to a 12-month community corrections order after earlier pleading guilty to infanticide over the April 2016 death of her daughter Sanaya Sahib.

The maximum prison sentence for infanticide in Victoria is five years.

Nikat served 529 days of pre-sentence detention after being charged over Sanaya’s death, before she was released on bail in September.

Sanaya’s paternal family said Nikat’s sentence was unfair.

“We have had no justice for her death,” Zahraa Sahib told reporters outside court.

“I don’t think it’s very fair that we’ve lost our little girl and there’s nothing for her.”

Ms Sahib said the sentence was “really disappointing and upsetting for our family”.

Prosecutors had pushed for a jail term, but at a pre-sentence hearing in September her lawyers argued a non-custodial community corrections order was appropriate given Nikat’s mental state.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry on Thursday said he accepted evidence from a psychiatrist that Nikat was depressed when she suffocated Sanaya and threw her body into Darebin Creek.

“Since I accept the (psychiatric) conclusions, I will sentence you on that basis,” he said.

Nikat was originally charged with murder but this was downgraded because of her depressive disorder.

On April 9, 2016 she told police a barefoot man of African appearance who smelled of alcohol had snatched Sanaya from her pram while they were at a Heidelberg West park.

The Fijian-born woman later admitted she took the infant to the park and played with her before suffocating Sanaya until she stopped moving.

A family who joined the public search found Sanaya’s body in Darebin Creek, and Nikat admitted what she did three days after the killing.

“It is a tragedy for you and everyone connected with your family,” Justice Lasry said.

“I accept that the way you acted after you had killed Sanaya was consistent with your irrational mental state.”

Nikat had an arranged marriage with Sanaya’s father and the pair separated while she was pregnant.

She and Sanaya had been living in women’s refuges in the months before the killing.

Police say Sanaya’s father, Abdul Sameer Sahib, and grandfather were too upset to attend Thursday’s sentence.

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