Lessons for agencies from child’s death

Social services, police, and hospital chiefs admitted mistakes this
week in their failure to prevent a mother killing her seriously ill

Patricia Stocker was jailed for five years at the Old Bailey last
week for putting up to 10 teaspoons of salt into special milk feed
designed to strengthen her nine-year-old son, David, who was
suffering from a mystery illness. The boy was first admitted to
hospital in February 2001, with stomach pains.

“We will openly acknowledge we made a serious mistake in that we
did not complete an assessment of David when we required to do so,”
said Havering social services executive director Marilyn

Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Great Ormond Street hospital,
where the boy died, said: “There were a lot of what appeared to be
minor incidents which, looked at individually, did not seem to
indicate a parent is harming her child.” She added that one of the
lessons learned from the case was the importance of

Peter Spindler, head of the Metropolitan Police’s child
investigations unit, said police should have investigated earlier
but were not called in until the salt poisoning had begun.

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