Children’s services must ask more questions about men associated with vulnerable children, a serious case review into the murder of an 11-week-old child by his father has found.
Amaraye Bryan died from head injuries in Sheffield children’s hospital last year after being shaken by his father, Courtney Bryan, known as Adult A, who had been known to agencies in Nottingham for 17 years.
Besides Amaraye’s murder, Bryan was convicted this year of three counts of child cruelty in 1999-2000 against two children, one of which was his own. However, though he was originally questioned about these incidents and two other cases involving injuries to children in 2003, he was not charged at the time. As a result his details were not passed on to police in Sheffield.
The case review said: “The significant information that Adult A posed a danger to children existed but was not recognised or utilised. Social services in Nottingham lacked rigour or focus on Adult A as a common denominator across the four families”
Too narrow a focus
Amaraye’s mother did not identify the father of her child until the day of the birth. The review found that there was no common assessment of the baby, and no probe into the identity of the father by health services at the time.
Nottingham and Sheffield social services were criticised in the review for having “too narrow a focus” and failing to collate information and “think laterally”.
The serious case review said that child protection meetings must explicitly identify and record all men associated with the family. It also advised children’s services to make better use of the “significant other” field when recording the details of a family.
Further recommendations included:
- Better understanding of the significance of “hard to reach” individuals, and the effect of people avoiding social services.
- More use of care proceedings when injures are present in very young children that may be deliberate, allowing detailed assessments to be made in court.
- Streamlined intelligence systems for police that can be checked simultaneously.
- The use of brain scans for any seriously unwell baby of under six months.
The independent chair of the Nottingham safeguarding children board, Margaret McGlade, said: “This man was known to Nottingham agencies in 1999 – 2003 but at that time he was not prosecuted for any offence relating to children. Without this, and given that Nottingham staff had no knowledge that he had any connection with any family in Sheffield, there was no basis on which they could have passed on information. Nottingham staff could not have predicted or prevented this death.”