The father of a murdered seven-year-old boy repeatedly told detectives in interviews that news of his son’s injuries came as a devastating shock to him.
Postal worker Yousef Ali Ege, 36, was emotional and struggled for words in the video interviews played to a jury at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday.
He told officers he had struggled to believe the details of the fractures to his son’s wrist, ribs, finger, skull and collar bone that prosecutors allege were caused by his wife Sara Ege, who denies murder, on the day young Yaseen Ali died.
“I can’t understand… I don’t know what to say… what can I say,” he said
“A doctor told me my son just passed away from the smoke without suffering any pain. Now it’s like my son suffered.
“He suffered and I didn’t know about it. I don’t know how any of those injuries appeared on him.
“I cannot believe Yaseen could have suffered like this.”
Prosecutors allege Ege must have known about the injuries caused before the fire at the family’s Cardiff home in July 2010 after which his son’s charred body was found.
Injuries found on the little boy’s body included earlier fractures which had healed and the severe abdominal damage which had split his bowel and killed him.
Asked over and over again, if he had caused them or if he knew who had, Ali repeated that he had known nothing until the findings of the post-mortem examination were revealed in disclosures read to him by his solicitor Matthew De Maid.
With Mr De Maid sitting beside him in the interview room the husband who also works as a taxi driver in the city repeatedly denied hitting Yaseen himself.
“No… No… I never hit Yaseen,” he said.
“He never complained about any pain. I was with him in the car every day taking him to school and other places he had to go.
“It is just shocking to me. I thought until now that my son passed because of the fire.
“My wife never told me about any injuries, the school never told me of any concerns, nobody picked it up. We all thought Yaseen was fit and well.
“If I had thought he was injured I would have spoken to Sara and we would have taken him to the doctor.”
Yousef Ege said the last time he saw his son, he had been standing in the hallway as he left the house some four hours before the 999 call was made by his wife to the fire service.
“He looked fine,” he said.
“He didn’t look as if he had any problems – he was just standing in the passage.”
A telephone call brought him back home as the emergency services were outside.
He said: “My wife was in the street wearing an oxygen mask. I was told Yaseen had already gone to the hospital. We went in another ambulance.”
His words were read and played on video recordings to a jury at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday, where Sara Ege, 31, the wife he married after an arranged meeting at her home in India denies murdering their child and perverting the course of justice by trying to burn his body.
Ege sits in the dock, some feet away from her, accused of failing to protect the little boy – a charge he denies.
Yaseen, whose teachers have said they noticed he was sometimes in pain and advised his mum he should see a doctor, died from what prosecutors say must have been more than one impact to his lower body.
The injuries caused were said by a pathologist to have set up a chain reaction which resulted in organ failure.
His charred body was recovered by firefighters who fought in vain to revive him on the front forecourt of the Ege’s home in Severn Road, Canton which has been described by prosecutor Ian Murphy QC as a ‘well appointed property’.
It was later discovered he had not inhaled any smoke but had been dead before the blaze started in his bedroom.
Sara Ege, a graduate in maths and statistics, who was a full time mum recovering from cancer and volunteer school helper, first told police she had been hitting Yaseen with a stick for some time.
She said she did not know why because he was such a good boy – and said she had burned his body to protect herself.
But she later withdrew that statement, instead blaming her husband for the injuries, saying he had threatened her.
She also said voices told her to start the fire she ignited with barbecue gel from their kitchen cupboard but then said someone else had done it.
Yousef Ege, one of a family of six from the Arab Emirates who settled in Cardiff when he was aged nine, told police he was present when his son was born prematurely and had a “perfect” relationship with him.
“Yaseen was my boy,” he said.
The day after his questioning, his solicitor handed a prepared statement to police which outlined his movements the day of the fire.
In it, Ege wrote: “I have a good relationship with my wife and my son – there is no violence in our family home.
“Yaseen had just moved to what we thought was a better school but did not go that day because he didn’t have a teddy to take their teddy bears’ picnic.
“He was happy whenever he went to school.
“I would like to add that we would never harm our family – we were so proud – it was everything to us.”
Returning to the catalogue of injuries noted on Yaseen’s body, he went on: “It is very distressing – I have thought about this all night and I can’t find words…
“I find it very difficult to take in – I can’t make sense of it.
“I have lost my son. I don’t know how my wife is… I find myself sitting in a police station trying to put words together.
“I cannot put words together.”