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MURDER OF BABY H’—CHILD WHO SHOULD BE ALIVE TODAY

PUBLISHED: 22:33 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:53 05 October 2010

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CHILDREN’s services and police in East London have been criticised following the horrific death of a six-month-old baby at the hands of her father—who smashed her head on the floor. A report strongly has criticised Tower Hamlets social services and the Met Police over the case of Baby H revealing missed opportunities to save the baby when the mother went to police two months after giving birth reporting the father about pinching the child when she cried. But police and social workers took no action

Special report by Ted Jeory

CHILDREN’s services and police in East London have been criticised following the horrific death of a six-month-old baby at the hands of her father who smashed her head on the floor. He has since been jailed for life at the Old Bailey.

A report strongly has criticised Tower Hamlets social services and the Met Police over the case of Baby H revealing missed opportunities to save the baby when the mother went to police two months after giving birth reporting the father for pinching the child when she cried.

But neither police nor social workers took protective action.

The Met said in a statement to the East London Advertiser today: “This is another example where those who should be offering love and protection to a child actually cause their violent death.”

But they failed to protect Baby H, whose sadistic dad went on to kill her when she was just six months old by smashing her head on a living room floor because she wouldn’t eat the yoghurt he tried to feed her.

Baby H had been suffering and eventually murdered in the year Tower Hamlets council was awarded the Government’s beacon’ status for its early intervention, children at risk’ policies.

The failure to act came just two months after former council chief executive Christine Gilbert left the authority to become Ofsted boss—based on her reputation in the children’s services field.

THREAT EVEN BEFORE BIRTH

The baby’s 29-year-old dad, previously known to authorities for beating pregnant women, had repeatedly attacked the mother during her pregnancy, once pointing a knife at her stomach and threatening to kill their unborn child.

But both mum and baby were being routinely beaten and abused.

The mother went to police two months after birth complaining that he was violent towards her throughout her pregnancy and since.

Crucially, she said he regularly pinched Baby H as punishment for crying.

The father was arrested, but then released with just a caution when the terrified mum withdrew her statement.

Fatally, the abuse of Baby H was not recorded as a crime. Neither the police nor Tower Hamlets council took the child protection action that could have saved her life.

A month later, the mother called police when the father tried take Baby H away from her.

Social workers finally placed mother and child in emergency accommodation in Redbridge, away from the East End.

But a social worker had been slow to start his child assessment when the files were being transferred to Redbridge Council and failed to highlight the allegations of violent abuse.

Within days, the father traced his family. All three attended a GP surgery when the baby was four months old where a practice nurse suspected the mum was being violently abused.

Police were called to her home that day where the father refused to leave and again tried to take the baby away.

THE LAST DAYS

Redbridge council was told, but social workers again decided no further action was needed.

Seven weeks later, Baby H was dead.

The murder trial heard that the father got angry when Baby H vomited the yoghurt he was feeding her.

He slapped the baby across the face, dangled her by her legs with her head towards the living room floor, before hurling her down, shouting, I don’t give a damn.’ He had killed his baby—then calmly got dressed and left.

A neighbour tried desperately to give Baby H the kiss of life,’ but the attempt failed.

The father was arrested that night and later pleaded guilty to murder and allowing a child to die.

The tragic episode was detailed in a report when independent chair Cathie Pattison said police and council workers had failed to act robustly enough.

They had viewed the mother’s allegations merely as a case of domestic violence rather than child

torture.

“Pinching Child H should have been recorded as an allegation of crime and investigated as such and as a child protection matter,” the report said.

“There should have been a clearer focus on the child by police and children’s services, not just the domestic violence.”

OPPORTUNITY MISSED

A further opportunity was missed by Tower Hamlets as a result of their “slow follow-up” of a child assessment.

Tower Hamlets refused to provide the Advertiser with any details today about whether the social worker involved had been sacked or suspended.

The authority issued a statement in which head of children’s services Kevan Collins said: “Tower Hamlets has acted on the recommendations to strengthen our existing procedures.

“People that come into contact with our social care services should expect to receive the highest level of service and we welcome the recommendations made.”

The Met police said new teams have been created in every borough to ensure information is shared, investigated and researched to help ensure a child at risk is safeguarded as effectively as possible.


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