Social Workers Could Not Have Prevented Boy’s Murder, Inquiry Finds

An inquiry into the murder of an 11-year-old schoolboy, who suffered from cystic fibrois, by a fellow pupil, says social workers could not have prevented the tragedy, it has emerged.

Joe Geeling was stabbed and beaten to death in Bury, Greater Manchester, by Michael Hamer, 14, in March last year. The independent report by the Bury safeguarding children board followed an internal serious case review into the involvement in the case of Bury council’s children’s services department.

The report did raise an issue about sharing information: “While it is not feasible for agencies to share information on every child, when decisions are made about referrals to specialist services the referring agency should gather relevant information from other agencies to provide a more holistic view of the child’s life,” the report said. “It may be that [Hamer] would have had more opportunities to identify his concerns if this had been in place.”

The panel members concluded that even if this improvement were in place, “it is highly unlikely” that Joe’s death would have been prevented.

In 2004, Hamer’s mother referred him to social care services and he received individual support from a student social worker. The social work records stated that Hamer suffered from bullying at school, lacked a relationship with his father and had lost his half brother, who died in February 2002.

Hamer lured Joe to his house before launching the attack. He then dumped Joe’s body in a wheelie bin which he took to a park to bury in a shallow grave. Hamer was jailed at Manchester crown court for a minimum of 12 years, later increased to 15 years at the court of appeal. He is serving his sentence in a secure local authority unit for troubled youngsters, receiving extensive treatment in the hope of rehabilitation.

At a press conference following the release of the report, Hester Ormiston, the independent consultant who conducted the review, said: “I’ve been asked specifically by Michael and his mother to express their sorrow and deep regret for what has happened in this case.”