Bristol serious case review: Child’s death from drugs was avoidable

serious case review for Bristol Safeguarding Children Board has found that the death of a 14-month old baby from a drug overdose was “clearly avoidable” but that no agency could have reasonably known he was at risk.

Rio Ross died from morphine and methadone intoxication on 21 July 2007 while in the care of his mother, Sabrina Ross, and a friend. Sabrina Ross had a long history of drug abuse and was on a methadone prescription at the time, which she had been allowed to take at home. It is not known how Rio came to ingest the drugs.

Ross was given a five-year prison sentence in June this year after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Number of indicators of difficulty

The serious case review found that between January and April 2007 individual agencies, including specialist drug services, health visitors and the police, held “a number of indicators” that Sabrina Ross was getting into difficulties. The report said: “From an individual agency perspective those indicators were not followed up or shared with all the other agencies. If they had been, a collective picture may have emerged which would have indicated a higher level of concern.”

The report also highlighted that police had not informed social services after they came across Sabrina with Rio during a drugs raid in May 2007.

The report recommended that in future police officers undertaking a drugs warrant refer any contact with children to the child abuse investigation team, and for a safety plan to be agreed between agencies before methadone is prescribed at home to people caring for children.

Related articles

Bristol social workers criticised over child death
Ofsted and fellow inspectorates reveal serious case review failings

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