Unlawful killing ruling on toddler

Summer Ratcliffe from Dewsbury. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Summer Ratcliffe from Dewsbury. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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A TODDLER who suffered a fatal wound to the head was unlawfully killed, a coroner has concluded, despite no one being charged over her death.

An inquest into the death of 21-month-old Summer Rogers, heard that she was subjected to a non-accidental “blunt force trauma” at her home in Dewsbury.

But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided no one could be prosecuted over her death because it could not be established whether it was her mother, stepfather or grandmother who was looking after her at the time she was injured.

Assistant Deputy Coroner Oliver Longstaff said the non-accidental nature of the injury had been established not merely on the balance of probabilities but also in the criminal courts.

He said: “In my view, and to the criminal standard of proof, I am satisfied that whatever the state of mind of the perpetrator of the act that caused Summer’s ultimately fatal injury, it would have been obvious to that perpetrator that Summer was being subjected to forces far in excess of anything she might have been expected to withstand, and which were overwhelmingly likely to cause her very significant injury.”

Detective Constable Richard Peckett had told the inquest in Bradford that Summer’s mother Victoria Rogers had been arrested on suspicion of murder during the investigation into her daughter’s death, along with her grandmother Susan Rogers and her mother’s partner, Craig Sharp. He said West Yorkshire Police submitted a file to the CPS but there was no prosecution.

The detective said this was because all three of those arrested had looked after Summer at her home in Nook Green, Thornhill, at some time in the early morning of February 27, 2012, but pathologists were unable to pinpoint exactly when the injuries were sustained.

Mr Longstaff also concluded there was no evidence Summer had been subjected to regular neglect or abuse, adding: “The event that led to her death was, I find, an extraordinary and horrific one-off event that could not have been predicted.”

The inquest was told that Summer was a normal, healthy child in a family with no involvement with social services.