The author of an independent review into the deaths of two
severely disabled men who were killed by their mother, has
concluded the tragedy could have happened anywhere in the
Report co-author Barbara McIntosh said only recently have social
services departments taken on responsibility for adults with severe
conditions such as cerebral palsy because in the past they would
not have lived so long.
McIntosh, of King’s College, London, said: “This is a new group
of young people we are dealing with. In the past they would not
She said ways of providing care for young people with profound
problems, and support for their parents are still being
The review was carried out into the deaths of Robert and Richard
Turnbull, who were in the early twenties and wheelchair-bound with
severe care needs. Their mother Janquil killed the men when she was
not able to cope with their round-the-clock care demands any
She admitted manslaughter with diminished responsibility, and
was placed on three years’ probation by Winchester crown court last
Turnbull and her husband Ron complained that Isle of Wight
social services department had not provided them with the support
The report, jointly commissioned by the council, health
authority and the Isle of Wight Healthcare Trust, found shortfalls
in the social services provided to the family.
The report stated that although Robert and Richard’s
priority needs were identified early on, services were slow to
arrive to meet those needs.
Community care assessments took eight months to complete, as a
result of information not being requested from previous
The parents should have been involved more in the planning for
their sons, and care plans were insufficiently clear and not given
to the parents.
The co-ordination between agencies was criticised, and the
report highlighted that staff may not have received appropriate
training and may not have fully acknowledged the level of stress on
It concluded, however, that authorities did not fail in their
statutory duty to provide protection.
Urgent action has been promised by Isle of Wight social
Charles Waddicor, director of social services and housing at the
council, said he welcomed the report: “We must now take some time
to consider the recommendations, and ensure that we improve
services by learning from this tragedy.”
He said the three agencies would be using the recommendations to
develop a joint plan for service improvement.
This would include: developing a joint social services and
health team; reviewing the training of care management and health
staff; requesting transfer information from previous authorities
and ensuring primary care staff are aware of the pressures on
people caring for someone with a profound disability.
Mr Turnbull said he was bitterly disappointed the report laid no
individual blame. He described it as “a sanitised version of
events, short on specifics, liberally embellished with untruths,
selective omissions and subjective speculation”.