Joe Geeling murder probably unavoidable, review finds

A serious case review into the death of Joe Geeling has concluded that it is “highly unlikely” the 11-year-old disabled boy’s murder could have been prevented.

The Bury Safeguarding Children Board review inquired into agencies’ involvement with Michael Hamer, who, aged 15, murdered Joe in Bury, Greater Manchester, last March.

Hamer, who had behavoiural and learning difficulties, pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 12 years’ jail in October. His sentence was later increased to 14 years by the Court of Appeal.

Bury Safeguarding Children Board said that although the case could have been handled differently at various stages, it is “highly unlikely that the tragic death of [Joe] could have been prevented”.

Hamer’s mother had referred him to social services in 2004, which worked with him between April and August of that year. His notes show he felt cut off from his family, was bullied at school, was stressed by rows with his mother and wanted more contact with his father.

He also had regular contact with health and special educational needs services.

The board found that at no point did any agency have full information on Hamer’s life and difficulties there could have been better communication between them.

But Eleni Ioannides, director of children’s services at Bury Council, said: “We know that this tragic incident will leave people wanting to blame someone, particularly when a child so young and precious was taken from his parents, family and friends. But sometimes we simply cannot predict or prevent tragedies and there is no one to blame.

“We have looked into the circumstances and there are improvements we can make but we are confident that none of these improvements would have reversed the situation.”

Related information

Essential information on child protection services

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