Sofina Nikat had earlier told investigators her daughter Sanaya Sahid was snatched from her pram by an African as they were walking in Olympic Park at Heidelberg West, Australia on Saturday morning. The 15-months-old was later found dead in a Melbourne creek in the early hours of Sunday, April 10.
22-year-old Nikat was arrested today in Mont Albert and charged with murder after she confessed to killing Sanaya. She appeared in the out of sessions hearing late yesterday. Ms Nikat appeared relatively calm as the charge was read out, The Australian reports.
Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said that Ms Nikat had been charged after an 8.30am interview. Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey told the court Nikat made full admission during a police interview.
“She was subsequently charged with murder,” the hearing was told. She was remanded in custody to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
CCTV footage from the park show Ms Nikat (screenshot of video above) walking into the park with the toddler in her stroller, then leaving again with an empty pram.
Detectives had spent Sunday scouring the crime scene at Heidelberg West before they started searching a home where Sanaya Sahib and her mother had been staying.
Sofina Nikat told police her little girl was snatched out of her pram at Olympic Park about 10am on Saturday by a man who smelt of alcohol and was not wearing shoes.
Nikat told officers she was pushed to the ground by the man, who ran off with her daughter towards a nearby shopping centre. She gave chase but when she realised she couldn’t catch him, she raced home to alert police. She never saw the face of the man, who is described as being of African appearance, between 20 and 30 years old and about 1.8m tall.
The toddler’s body was found in Darebin Creek just before 3am on Sunday by a family of four who had seen social media posts about her disappearance and wanted to help.
The family, who had once lost a child who had later been found, had spent the night looking for Sanaya. Sheraz Sahib, Sanaya’s grandfather, publicly thanked the family, locals and authorities on Sunday. He said Sanaya’s relatives were in total shock, but receiving lots of support.
“My granddaughter Sanaya will be missed by us all,” he told reporters. “She was a beautiful child who has been taken from us too soon.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said it wasn’t known how long the toddler’s body had been in the water.
Tribute flowers and teddy bears have been left at the scene. Neighbour Melynda Smith said of Sanaya, “She was happy, she was well looked after.”
A post-mortem examination would be carried out on the toddler’s body, but no details of the results were released.
Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Australian