Mum who strangled daughter, 5, at home in lockdown weeps as she’s jailed for 5 years

Little Alijah Thomas’ mother Martina was described by the girl’s father as “not a bad person” and the “best mum”. Her mental health had deteriorated rapidly after her pay was cut in lockdown

Alijah Thomas was strangled by her mum


A carer who strangled her five-year-old daughter at home during lockdown wept as she was jailed for five years today.

Martina Madarova was suffering from depression when she throttled Alijah Thomas at her home in Ealing, London on September 14 last year.

Alijah’s father David said he doesn’t blame Madarova for their daughter’s death and described her as the best mum and his partner, best friend and soulmate.

In a written statement from David, the Old Bailey heard 41-year-old Madarova was “the most innocent person you could meet, she sees the good in everyone and everything”.

He added: “I am shocked by what has happened, this is just not her, she would do anything for Alijah.

“She is not a bad person, she is the best mum.

“There is no hatred towards her, this is a case of mental health. I still have feelings towards her, I’m concerned about her health in prison.

“She was more than my partner, she is my best friend and my soulmate.”

Police were called to their home after ‘concerns’ were raised for the child’s welfare.

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The London Ambulance Service also attended but rigor mortis had already set in, and Alijah was pronounced dead at the scene.

Madarova, originally from Slovakia, had her wages from her job as a carer cut by 65 per cent during lockdown, the court heard.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC, told the court: “Friends spoke of her devotion to her daughter before the killing.”

Quoting a friend of Madarova’s, Mr Atkinson said: “Ms Madarova was very stressed about the pandemic and that she had missed the deadline for registering Alijah for school.

“She was panicking that the authorities were going to take Alijah away.

“She has been regularly crying, as she was not sure if she wanted to remain in the UK or return to Slovakia.”

Alijah was just five-years-old


Mr Atkinson said her friends and family had urged her to go to her GP, but Madarova’s ‘pride’ stopped her from seeking help.

Jennifer Dempster QC, defending Madarova, said: “The word tragic is used in this building from time to time, some might say it is overused. Not in this case.

“Every single feature of this case is tragic from the start to the end, from the death of Alijah to the statement of David Thomas, which no one in this court could be failed to be moved by.

“He should not feel any sense of responsibility for what has happened.

“This is a defendant who was a devoted carer and loving mother to Alijah, and there are multiple pieces of evidence to support that.

“She became rapidly overwhelmed by mental health issues.

“She will have to remain for the rest of her life knowing she is responsible for the death of her child, and there is nothing she can do about that.

“She will remain, as she is now, overwhelmed with grief and overwhelmed with remorse.”

Madarova appeared in court wearing a grey and black sweatshirt, and wept in the dock throughout the hearing.

Family and friends watched from the well of the court.

Judge Richard Marks said: “You were suffering from a depressive episode with psychotic symptoms.

“It is clear this is a disorder that was undiagnosed.

“The tragedy is that many people close to you urged you to go to the doctor but you had failed to do so.

“I know Mr Thomas is present and listening to this. It is easy to be wise after the event but his conduct throughout, in my judgement, is absolutely beyond reproach, and he has shown a great sense of compassion.

“I am satisfied you had been an exemplary mother and had deep love for her.

“You have to live with what you did for the rest of your life, and your remorse is totally genuine.

“I express hope that you will be able to put these matters behind you in due course.

“Can I express the most sincere condolences with Mr Thomas, and I am very impressed by the way he has treated these matters, nobody could behave in a better way.”

Madarova, of Leyborne Avenue, Ealing, west London, admitted and was sentenced for manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

In a statement after the hearing Detective Chief Inspector Jim Shirley of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said: “This has been a truly harrowing investigation that involved the loss of an innocent young life at the hands of a loved one.

“I sincerely hope that Alijah’s family are comforted by the knowledge that Martina Madarova will now receive the help that she needs. Our thoughts are with them today.”

Alijah’s father, David added: “No words could ever explain or put into context how I have felt since Alijah was taken from us.

“There is no escaping this situation, every day I have to live through the loss of my daughter and the impact it has had on us.

“This has changed our lives.

“I am not only suffering the loss of my daughter but I have also lost my partner in these tragic circumstances.

“Martina was more than just a partner, she was my best friend and my soul mate.

“This is a case of mental health. There is no hatred towards Martina.”

If you are affected by this story there are many people who would be happy to talk to you:


If you need to talk and don’t know where to turn to, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively you can email j[email protected] or visit the website to find your local branch.


If you or somebody you know is experiencing a mental health problem, SANEline’s helpline is open between 4.30pm and 10.30pm every day on 0300 304 7000.


The mental health charity Mind has resources aimed at helping you cope with and plan for a crisis. Visit their website for details on helplines, how to access crisis services and what to do if you’re unable to get help yourself.

*In an emergency, dial 999 for urgent help

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