Abdul Wahjab admits to torturing and murdering five-year-old stepdaughter Nadia Zofia Kalinowska

A 34-year old man was handed a life sentence on Thursday after he confessed to torturing and murdering his five-year old step-daughter.

Nadia Zofia Kalinowska was pronounced dead at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in the early hours of December 15 2019 - and over three years after the fatal attack, Abdul Wahab finally admitted murdering her in the family home at Fernagh Drive in Newtownabbey.

The Pakistani national also admitted causing the youngster grievous bodily harm with intent in an attack 24 hours before she died, as well as carrying out a campaign of assaults against her on dates between July 1 and December 14 2019.

Nadia's mother Aleksandra Wahab (28), who is originally from Poland, pleaded guilty to an 'alternative' charge to murder - namely causing or allowing the death of her daughter.

She also admitted a charge of causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm the day before Nadia's death, and of allowing Nadia to suffer over a period from July 1 and December 14, 2019.

The couple were arrested and charged with murdering Nadia following her death on December 15, 2019. They were also charged with a litany of other offences which they initially denied.

The scene at Fernagh Drive

A trial into Nadia's death started at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday (18th January) when a jury was told the schoolgirl was tortured and killed in her home - a place where she should have felt safe.

During the opening, Crown barrister Liam McCollum detailed the injuries inflicted on Nadia. As well as suffering a skull fracture and lacerated liver which caused her death, Nadia had also sustained fractures and re-fractures to her ribs, a fractured collarbone, a fractured pelvis and an injury to her bowel.

Also present at Nadia's time of death were 70 surface injuries including bruising and abrasions.

This led the Crown to conclude that Nadia had been subjected to a campaign of physical abuse in the family home which culminated in her death.

As the hearing was due resume today, barristers for both Mr and Mrs Wahab asked that their clients be re-arraigned - and at this point Mr Wahan bowed his head and tearfully pleaded guilty to the murder.

He was told by Mr Justice O'Hara: "In light of the fact you have pleaded guilty to murder, I now impose a sentence of life imprisonment upon you.

"In due course a plea hearing will take place at which I will set the minimum period which you have to serve in jail before you can be considered for release."

The trial judge also addressed the jury of seven men and five woman. He said that as both Mr and Mrs Wahab had now pleaded guilty to three charges each, he directed them to return 'not guilty' verdicts on all the remaining counts.

He thanked the 12 members of the jury for their service before discharging them from the case.

Barristers for both Mr and Mrs Wahab asked for time ahead of sentencing to allow defence reports to be prepared.

Mr Justice O'Hara agreed to this and listed the plea for March 9. Both defendants were then remanded back into custody.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.