A SERIOUS case review launched after an eight-week-old baby girl was murdered by her father in Castleford has concluded there was no evidence to suggest she had been at risk.
The Wakefield and District Safeguarding Children Board investigation did not reveal any factors which could have led health workers to predict baby Grace Barnes was in danger.
It is the first of four serious case reviews – launched after the deaths of children in Wakefield – to have been concluded and published.
At Leeds Crown Court in September, Richard Barnes, 27, was jailed for life after a jury convicted him of murdering his daughter Grace at the family home in Crowther Street in November 2011.
Barnes, who had a drink problem, crushed Graces’s skull last November after he drank beer, whisky and vodka.
A pathologist concluded Barnes either kicked or stamped on the back of her head, or he may have crushed her skull by pressing it against a hard surface such as a floor.
The serious case review report writer states Grace’s family were never identified as needing specialist child in need or child protection services, adding: “Given the information that was known about the family, this was appropriate.”
Edwina Harrison, independent chair of Wakefield and District Safeguarding Children’s Board, said: “We extend our sympathies to the family of this young child and we are grateful for their contribution to this serious case review.
“The review has concluded that, even with the benefit of hindsight, her tragic death could not have been predicted.
“We found that there were no missed opportunities to protect this young child despite the sad circumstances of her death.
“However, every serious case review provides an opportunity for learning and we are using the findings of this review to continue to improve services to children and their families in this district.”
The report found Grace’s GP did not refer her to a health visitor after she had suffered an episode of colic, because he the GP did not think the health visitor “would respond appropriately”.
The report states: “Practice two must take urgent action to improve communication and demonstrate an effective working relationship with their health visitor team.”
Sue Cannon, executive director of quality and governance for NHS Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield District, said; “Firstly, we would like to offer our condolences to the family on the tragic death of this baby.
“Although the review concluded that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent this tragedy, we are always keen to improve where we can and will be following up the report’s comments about systems for communication.”
Wakefield and District Safeguarding Children Board is also carrying out a serious case review in to death of five-year-old Haroon Bhatti of Wakefield.
Haroon’s father Pazeer Ahmed, 34, of Aberford Road, was jailed for life in October after a Leeds Crown Court jury convicted him of murder.
And a serious case review is being carried out in to the death of 17-year-old Kimberley Frank. She had spent time in the care of social services before she and friend Samantha Sykes, 18, were murdered in a frenzied knife attack in Wakefield in March of this year.
Last month, asylum seeker Ahmad Otak, 19, was jailed for life after admitting the two murders. Details of the fourth serious case review being carried out concerning the death of a child in Wakefield district cannot be revealed until legal proceedings have concluded.