Victims of child abuse who have paid with their lives

Amanda Hutton
Amanda Hutton
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THE horrific neglect suffered by Hamzah Khan at his home in Bradford is the latest in a series of cases where the abuse of a young child has prompted severe criticism of local care services.

As recently as last month, a report found that chances were missed to help four-year-old Daniel Pelka, who was murdered by his mother and her partner after suffering “terrifying and dreadful” abuse.

The serious case review in Coventry found Daniel was “invisible” at times and “no professional tried sufficiently hard enough” to talk to him. He was starved and beaten for months before he died in March 2012.

In August, his mother and her partner were jailed for life for murder. The judge at Birmingham Crown Court told Magdelena Luczak, 27, and Mariusz Krezolek, 34, that they were guilty of “incomprehensible brutality”.

The couple, who blamed each other for killing Daniel, who was starved, beaten and held under cold water, were ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison each.

The man in charge of child protection in Coventry when Daniel died has recently admitted he knew nothing about the case until after the toddler was murdered.

The report into Daniel’s death was one of hundreds of serious case reviews compiled in England and Wales over the last decade after a child’s death or serious injury that is thought to have been caused by neglect or abuse.

In the past, common themes in serious case reviews have included poor communication between agencies and failings in assessments and decision-making.

The most high profile in recent years was that of Peter Connelly, “Baby P”, who died at the age of just 17 months in Haringey, north London, in August 2007, after suffering 50 injuries including a broken back and cracked ribs.

After an outcry over his death, a report said the majority of the staff involved were “incompetent” and his death should have been prevented.

Staff were too ready to believe the mother’s account of what happened, despite Peter being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals.

In 2009 agencies in Doncaster were criticised in serious case reviews for failing to protect two children who were later murdered by their fathers.

They included 16-month-old Amy Howson, who died in December 2007. Her father, James Howson, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to a minimum of 22 years in prison.

Her mother, Tina Hunt, was given a 12-month suspended sentence after admitting child cruelty.

Amy died after her spine was snapped in two, but prosecutors said she had suffered for months before that. When she was examined in hospital on the day she died, she was malnourished and dehydrated.

The deaths were among seven of children in the district over five years through abuse or neglect that led to the Government ordering a takeover of Doncaster’s children’s services department in March 2009.