Social worker reinstated after ‘child-shut-in-cupboard’ case

A social worker has been cleared of failing to inform police and child protection colleagues that two-year-old Sanam Navsarka had been locked in a cupboard a week before she was murdered.

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A social worker has been cleared of failing to inform police and child protection colleagues that two-year-old Sanam Navsarka had been locked in a cupboard a week before she was murdered.

Judyth Kenworthy was suspended from practice for two years in January, after the General Social Care Council found she made a “conscious decision” not to pass on information about the suspected abuse.

But the First-tier (Care Standards) Tribunal overturned the decision after re-examining the evidence from two key witnesses, a carer who provides supportive lodgings for teenagers in the care system and her grandson.

In a statement to police, the carer said she had reported concerns about the toddler being locked in a cupboard to Kenworthy on 1 May 2008, a week before Sanam’s death.

Her grandson also said he had mentioned the incident in front of Kenworthy, who was a family placement officer for Kirklees Council at the time.

Kenworthy denied receiving the information, although she did admit failing to pass on separate reports of an non-accidental bump on the child’s head.

However, the carer later admitted in oral evidence to the GSCC that she may have found out about the cupboard incident after 1 May.

Tribunal judge Melanie Lewis said the witnesses were “honest and trustworthy”, but added that they “strikingly and frequently said they couldn’t remember, contradicted themselves and said things slightly different”.

The tribunal upheld the majority of the GSCC’s findings and agreed that misconduct had been proved. But Lewis said: “If one takes out the finding that [Kenworthy] was told about the cupboard incident, this impacts upon that finding of concealment, which we do not uphold.”

Taking this into account, the tribunal decided the original sanction was “harsh and disproportionate”, and reduced it to a two-year admonishment.

Sanam’s mother, Zahbeena Navsarka, was jailed for nine years for her daughter’s manslaughter. Navsarka’s partner, Subhan Anwar, was jailed for a minimum of 23 years for murder.

A serious case review published in 2009 found Sanam’s death may have been prevented if it had not been for the failure of the council’s looked-after children staff to refer concerns they had received to child protection colleagues.

Read the full Care Standards Tribunal ruling

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