Baby’s neglect due to social service failings

SERIOUS failings in the council’s social services department were exposed by broken bones and internal haemorrhaging suffered by a three-and-a-half week-old baby, a judge has ruled.

A couple from Weston pleaded guilty to neglect at Bristol Crown Court today after the youngster was treated for the catalogue of injuries that included fractured ribs and knees, abdominal bruising, and haemorrhaging within the skull.

The court heard that concerns over the suitability of the parents to care for the child had been raised by a North Somerset Council social worker, but they went unheeded by her superiors.

Judge David Ticehurst said the decision not to place them in a residential home for supervision may have been taken due to a need to cut costs, or through a lack of resources.

Robert Duval, prosecuting, said the couple suffered from forms of learning difficulties and were ‘wholly inadequate’ to care for children.

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He added that the mother’s social worker had extensive knowledge of her, but despite her warnings ahead of the child’s birth, her proposal to house mother and daughter in a residential home so they could be supervised was ignored by managers.

Only three-and-a-half weeks after the baby was born and the couple were allowed to take her home, she was taken to Weston General Hospital after her left leg had swollen up.

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Doctors then spotted the catalogue of injuries and treated them, before she was taken away from her parents. She is now up for adoption.

The mother was sentenced to a two-year community order with the father due to be sentenced at a later date.

Following a fact-finding enquiry into the department’s handling of the case by Judge Simon Darwell-Smith, Judge Ticehurst said there were ‘major concerns’ that the social worker’s advice had been ignored, and urged the council to launch an urgent enquiry.

North Somerset Council has promised a review following the judge’s comments.

* For the full story, pick up a copy of this week’s Mercury.

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