There are large numbers of children in the UK who are abused by their parents and carers on a daily basis. Tragically this abuse can lead to the death of a child and care agencies estimate that approximately eighty children die every year from abuse or neglect. The following names are of children who suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of their carers and were subject to enquiries, others however remain unnamed.
Maria Coldwell 3-25-69 to 7-1-73
Maria was the youngest of five children and spent the early part of her childhood in the care of her aunt and uncle. However she was returned to the care of her mother, Pauline and her partner William Kepple where she was starved and abused to the point that she was described as a walking skeleton. In January 1973 Maria was taken to hospital by her mother and stepfather in a pram and was found to be dead on arrival. Maria was seen to have multiple bruises, fractured ribs, brain damage and an empty stomach. William Kettle was found guilty of manslaughter and received an eight year custodial sentence reduced to four years on appeal.
Tyra Henry 8-11-82 to 29-8-84
Tyra was the second child of Claudette Henry and Andrew Neil. The couple’s first child had been removed from them following physical abuse which had left him severely disabled. Neither parent was convicted of the abuse due to a lack of evidence. Tyra spent some time in the care of her mother and grandmother but subsequently resided with her mother and Andrew Neil. On the 29th August 1984, Tyra was left at a hospital by her aunt. On examination Tyra was noted to have fifty-seven old and new bite marks, scratches, slap marks, broken skull and brain damage. Tyra died thirty hours after her admission. Andrew Neil received life imprisonment for her murder.
Jasmine Beckford 2-12-79 to 5-7-84
Jasmine Beckford was the daughter of Beverly Lorrington and step daughter of Morris Beckford. During her short life Jasmine and her younger sister were noted to have non accidental injuries including a broken arm and femur. Her step father was subsequently convicted of assaulting Jasmine’s younger sister and received a suspended jail sentence and a fine. Jasmine and her sister were returned home from foster care and on the 5th July 1984 she was taken to hospital by her mother, where she later died. Examination of Jasmine’s body showed her to be significantly under weight, had twenty broken bones, cuts, grazes, bruises and cigarette burns. Morris Beckford received a ten year custodial sentence for manslaughter.
Kimberley Carlile 3-11-81 to 8-6- 86
Kimberley was the youngest daughter of Pauline Carlile. After spending some time in foster care Kimberley was returned to the care of her mother and stepfather Nigel Hall. Despite serious concerns expressed by neighbours about Kimberley’s care, her parents managed to keep professionals from seeing the child. On the 8th June, Kimberley was admitted to hospital where she died. The post mortem showed that the little girl was seriously underweight, had numerous bruises, cigarettes burns to her body, injuries to her genital area and a haemorrhage under her skull suggesting that she had been kicked. Nigel Hall received a life sentence and Pauline Carlile a custodial sentence of twelve years.
Victoria Climbié 2-11-91 -25-2-2000
From 1998 Victoria lived with her great aunt Marie-Thérèse Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning. During her time with her aunt and Manning, Victoria suffered systematic abuse with various implements and was bound and made to sleep in black plastic bags in the bath. Following admission to the hospital Victoria died suffering from hypothermia and multi-system breakdown. The post mortem revealed one hundred and twenty-eight injuries on her body.
Both Kouao and Manning received a life sentence.
Peter Connolly. 1-3-2006 – 3rd August 2007
According to the special case review
Peter Connolly lived with his mother Tracey Connolly and her partner Steven Barker. Also living in the home from July 2007 was Barker’s brother Jason Owen, his fifteen year old girlfriend and his children. During his short life Peter was neglected and suffered physical abuse from Barker. Peter was seen to lose weight and have a number of injuries including bruising to his head, body and genitals, scratches, infected finger tip and ear lobe, all of which his mother and others blamed on accidents. On the 3rd August Peter was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. On examination Peter was found to have eight fractured ribs, a fractured spine and a tooth found in his colon.
Peter’s mother and Jason Owen were given an indeterminate prison sentence but could be eligible for parole after serving three years. James Barker was jailed for twelve years for causing Peter’s death and he also received a life sentence for the rape of a two year old child.
All of these children were known to social services, health professionals, police, had extended family and neighbours and yet their lives were full of horrendous abuse which resulted in their deaths. Following their deaths, all of these children were subject to media attention and also public enquiries where similar issues relating to taking the parent at face value and a lack of communication between professionals were raised. Lessons to be learned from these and others cases of children’s abuse and death are that parents and carers do not always tell the truth, the child has to be the priority and professionals need to ensure that there are clear channels of communication. In addition family and neighbours should not be afraid to report any concerns that they have about a child and ensure that they are heard by professionals even if this means becoming a nuisance.