Concerns over social worker`s abilities raised before baby`s death

A senior child protection manager raised fears about a social
worker’s capabilities five months before a baby in his care died,
an inquest heard.

Child protection co-ordinator Anne Scott told the hearing into
the tragic death of Sophie Casey that the social worker assigned to
her case had “a lack of assessment and planning around

David Potts was dismissed from his job as social worker with
South Tyneside council when he failed to pass on the case of
13-month-old Sophie before going off sick.

Sophie subsequently died at her home in South Shields when her
mother’s heroin addict boyfriend, Peter Casey, fed her a mixture of
cheesecake, ice cream, Weetabix and milk for breakfast.

She was found dead in her cot on 10 December 1999. She had
choked on her own vomit.

Gateshead coroner Terence Carney heard how Scott first raised
concerns about Potts in July 1999, but failed to meet with him to
discuss his work until November of that year.

She said: “I first became concerned about David Potts’ work in
July or August 1999 regarding his social worker procedures.

“He had a lack of assessment and planning around children and
the way he managed his files,” she said.

After Potts’ manager David Martin took the stand Carney angrily
announced that essential information was being hidden from the
inquest by South Tyneside social services.

Carney asked: “Is there any detail on file to say when David
Potts was allocated the case?”

Martin responded: “No. All I can say is that it has been deleted
from the file. The information has been tippexed.”

Carney brought a halt to proceedings for two hours, ordering
social services to bring the file to the hearing.

Potts was asked to attend the inquest at Gateshead county court,
but refused to turn up as it would be “too stressful”.

In a statement read to the inquest, he said: “Sophie’s case was
a high profile one and should have been reallocated to another
member of staff or my supervisor Dave Martin. I have no evidence to
say the case was dealt with in my absence.”

The inquest heard how social services were handed the case of
baby Sophie in August 1999 when she was admitted to hospital with a
skull fracture.

An investigation into a possible assault on Sophie was carried
out, but doctors were said to be satisfied with her mother Emma’s
explanation that it was an accident.

The inquest continues.





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