Report into child’s death highlights social work failings

    The family of a five-year-old killed by her mother found their involvement with social services to be a “bruising and disenchanting encounter”, according to a new report on the case.

    According to the North West Strategic Health Authority (SHA) report, the case of Chloe Fahey of Stretford, Greater Manchester, could have been handled better with a more experienced social worker on the job.

    In 2003, Aisling Murray, who had paranoid schizophrenia, stabbed her daughter to death. The SHA is publishing its report only now because, according to a spokesperson, “this was an incredibly complicated and sensitive inquiry. There were serious considerations to take into account, not least that the mother was prosecuted and then appealed.”

    Although the report said social services could not have prevented Chloe’s death, it pointed out that Murray’s main social worker was inexperienced. She completed her training in March 1998 and took on the case three months later.

    Although the report described the social worker as “well intentioned”, it said she was hampered by too heavy a caseload, inadequate supervision and insufficient resource support.

    It added that the social worker’s involvement with Murray coincided with a time of “insufficient team management and leadership for most of the time within the Trafford North team”.

    The report also slammed a social work assessment that took place just one day before the fatal incident, calling it “seriously flawed”.

    The SHA said social workers at the assessment had failed to elicit vital pieces of information which may have affected the decision to leave Murray at home with her child.

    Trafford Council, where the family’s case was handled, has refused Community Care’s request for any further information about the serious case review carried out in December 2003.

    At the time, the review concluded that social care professionals could not have predicted that Murray would fatally attack her daughter. This was despite three child protection investigations into the family during the first three years of Chloe’s life.

    Although Murray pleaded guilty to murder in 2004, the Court of Appeal later overturned the verdict and found her guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

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