Conviction sparks investigation

An investigation has been launched by south London’s Greenwich Area
Child Protection Committee following the death of a four-year-old
girl in July last year at the hands of her mentally ill

Elvis Smith, who has suffered mental health problems since he was a
child, was awarded custody of his daughter Nicole when she was six
months old. In the period leading up to the killing, Smith realised
he was not coping. He told the Old Bailey that he had asked social
services for help but that they “wouldn’t listen”.

A spokesperson for the council described the case as a “tragedy”
but insisted Smith’s fatal attack “could not have been

“We knew that he was having problems so we arranged extra
placements in day centres for him,” she said.

Smith admitted manslaughter on the basis of diminished
responsibility after doctors found he was suffering from a
treatable psychopathic disorder. Judge Martin Stephens QC ordered
that Smith be detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act
1983. But he said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on
social services’ involvement.

An independent report has been commissioned by Greenwich ACPC from
Jennifer Bernard of the NSPCC and Anne Bird, a consultant
psychiatrist with the Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust. It
will draw together reports from all the different agencies involved
in the case and is to be published at the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Greenwich Council said social services had
already made changes since Nicole’s death, including introducing
joint training for children and families social workers and mental
health services staff. Protocols to ensure that teams work more
closely together have also been introduced.

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