Social services accused of failing to protect young murder victims

Samantha Sykes (left), 18, and Kimberley Frank, 17, were murdered by asylum-seeker Ahmad Otak (below).
Samantha Sykes (left), 18, and Kimberley Frank, 17, were murdered by asylum-seeker Ahmad Otak (below).
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THE mother of asylum seeker Ahmad Otak’s second murder victim claims social services failed their daughter by not providing adequate support to others in the case.

Samantha Sykes’s mother, Judith, spoke after seeing her daughter’s killer jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

Otak murdered Kimberley Franks in revenge after her sister, Elisa, ended her relationship with him. He then forced her to lure her friend Samantha to Kimberley’s home and stabbed her to death as well.

“It is our strong belief that Wakefield children’s social care failed our daughter by not providing the appropriate level of protection and support for Kimberley and her sister,” she said. “Had appropriate levels of protection and support been in place we believe that both Kimberley and Samantha might still be alive today.

“Their murderer had previously entered this country claiming to be a child where he was subsequently placed with some of society’s most vulnerable children.”

The court heard it was in care that Otak met Elisa and began his controlling relationship of her.

“Although the tragic outcome of this case is unusual, sadly the failure of services to adequately look after children within the care system is not. Unfortunately most of the tragic life stories of children who have been subject to the care system go unheard,” she said.

“As a looked-after child we feel that Kimberley was both incredibly vulnerable and invisible, but she was not invisible to our daughter who saw her for the beautiful, compassionate person that she was, someone who had so much potential.”

She said: “Since our beautiful daughter was taken from us our lives have been shattered. The immense pain we feel is at times unbearable. As a mother I no longer feel whole.

“Samantha was such a huge personality she filled our lives and our hearts. She was like a beautiful flower, she had just bloomed into a young woman with her whole life ahead of her and was part way to realising her dream of becoming a successful model.

“We will never get over the fact that we can no longer see or hear her, but she will be eternally loved by all those who were touched by her wonderful spirit.”

Edwina Harrison, chair of the Wakefield and District Safeguarding Children Board, confirmed a serious case review would take place. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the two families and friends at this very difficult time. We realise that nothing we can say will bring these two young women back and we are deeply sorry about the loss and pain suffered by both families,” she said.

“This court case is the result of a complex police investigation and Kimberley was known to Wakefield Council’s family services. Now the case is concluded we are working with both families to complete our serious case review.

“The review is taking all the issues being raised in this tragic case very seriously. All the agencies involved are examining their practices rigorously in the light of what has happened. We will identify any lessons which can be learned and make sure that any improvements to services are swiftly implemented.”

Helen Sanderson, district crown prosecutor with CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “Kimberley Frank and her friend Samantha Sykes died as a result of a sustained, brutal and frenzied attack. Ahmad Otak could not accept that his relationship with Kimberley’s sister was over and decided to take revenge in the most appalling way imaginable.

“Otak is now facing a life term with a recommendation to serve a minimum of 33 years behind bars. Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Kimberley and Samantha and we hope that today’s sentence brings them some comfort.”

Det Chief Inspector Simon Atkinson said Ahmad was a “very dangerous man”.

“I would like to thank the members of the public that intervened in Dover and prevented Ahmad Otak fleeing the country. I am convinced that their actions prevented further violence and tragedy occurring,” he said.