Plymouth Council is fighting a coroner’s decision to
investigate its role in the death of a baby, whose mother was
jailed for cruelty towards him, writes Mithran
In a judicial review this week, the High Court heard that South
Devon Coroner Nigel Meadows’ called for the inquest into
Perrin Barlow’s death to consider the role of “system
neglect”, based on a misunderstanding of the councils’
role in child protection cases.
The court heard Perrin was on the child protection register and
under an interim supervision order at the time of his death in July
2002. A council crisis intervention team had been working with his
His mother, Stephanie Horrocks, and her partner Mark McAndrew
were jailed last February after pleading guilty to child cruelty,
though she later died in custody.
Paul Storey QC, representing the council, said the couple had
failed to call for treatment for Perrin on the day of his death,
and said medical evidence suggested had he received earlier medical
attention he would have survived.
He defended the council’s decision not to take Perrin into
care, saying there was uncertainty over whether his prior poor
health was down to neglect or other causes.
Attacking the coroner’s decision, he said: “There is
no absolute duty upon the state to remove a child from his parents
simply because there is a risk.”
Storey added that the council had already carried out an
exhaustive investigation into Perrin’s death.
The case was expected to conclude on Wednesday.