Plymouth avoids child death inquiry

Plymouth Council has won a High Court battle to prevent an
inquiry into its role in the death of a baby whose mother was
jailed for cruelty.

A judge quashed a coroner’s call for an investigation into the
role of “systems neglect” in the death of nine-month-old Perrin

Mr Justice Wilson said that, while taking Perrin into care would
have saved him, the council and other agencies had no reason to
suspect there was a “real and immediate” threat to his life.

Perrin died from bronchopneumonia, which may have been triggered
by dehydration and malnutrition, while on the child protection
register and under an interim supervision order.

His mother, Stephanie Horrocks, and her partner, Mark McAndrew,
were jailed last February after pleading guilty to child cruelty.
Horrocks later died in custody.

South Devon Coroner Nigel Meadows had said the inquest should
cover the possible role of child protection agencies, citing his
right to life under the European Convention of Human Rights.

But Mr Justice Wilson said such an investigation could only be
triggered if agencies had tangible grounds for believing Perrin was
in immediate danger.

He said that, apart from Perrin’s low weight, there was “no
history which gave rise to significant alarm about Perrin’s health
or safety, let alone in terms of a threat to his life”.


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