Council criticised over child’s death

A former South Tyneside Council social worker
and his line manager have been strongly criticised by a coroner
over the death of a 13-month-old child.

Casey had been referred to social services in August 1999 after she
fractured her skull. Social worker David Potts took on the case,
but failed to pass it on to his supervisor, Dave Martin, when he
went on sick leave a month later. Casey died in December 1999 when
she choked on her own vomit after being fed a mixture of
cheesecake, ice-cream, milk and Weetabix by her

Delivering his verdict of death
by misadventure, contributed to by neglect, South Tyneside coroner
Terence Carney said: “The focus from social services was not on the
children, nor does there appear to have been positive actions to
safeguard or promote children’s welfare.”

joint investigation by the social services department and
Northumbria police child protection team into Sophie’s fractured
skull found it was an accident. Nursing staff, teachers, neighbours
and Sophie’s own grandparents had all raised their concerns with
social services over the way Sophie and her brother were being
parented by their mother and stepfather.

Doughty, executive director of social care and health at South
Tyneside council, said: “Although Sophie was not in the care of
social services during her short life, we recognise that as one of
the agencies responsible for her well-being there were serious
shortcomings in the way this case was handled.”


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