Social services ignored warning letters over boy who raped child

A SOCIAL services department ‘ignored’ warnings about a boy, 11, who went on to rape a nine-year-old boy.

Child psychiatrist Dr Stephen Westgarth wrote two letters to Sunderland City Council’s social services department recommending the troubled boy be placed in care.

But the council neither responded to the letters nor took action and the rape took place just weeks later.

Judge Beatrice Bolton yesterday said the assault, on June 8 in the Sunderland area, would not have happened if he had been placed into care.

“It is a great pity that Dr Westgarth wrote to social services on March 23 recommending that you should be placed in care and that his letter appears to have been ignored,” the judge told the defendant. “He wrote again on May 26 and he received no reply and nothing happened.

“If something had happened and if you had moved away from home you would not have done this to the boy.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard the boy, now 12, raped the younger boy, who is disabled, after bribing him with Pokemon games.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted a single charge of rape at an earlier hearing and received four-and-a-half years detention with another three-and-a-half years on licence once he is released.

Penny Moreland, prosecuting, said his young victim told police the defendant said if he let him carry out a sex act he would give him a Pokemon game.

“The boy told police it hurt but the defendant kept on doing it because the boy said he still wanted the Pokemon games,” Miss Moreland said. “The boy said it made him feel sad but he was trying his best because he wanted the Pokemon game.

“He went home for his tea and he began to cry and told his mother what he had done to him and his mother contacted the police.”

Shortly afterwards the defendant’s mother arrived at the victim’s house. “She was horrified and expressed sympathy to the boy’s mother and told her son she was going to phone social services to take him away,” Miss Moreland said.

During police interviews the defendant said he had been raped himself several times. But the court was told the Crown was not pursuing these matters, as there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction”.

The defendant, whose parents were in court, had also been reprimanded earlier this year for common assault on a 16-year-old boy.

Gavin Doig, defending, handed the judge a letter the boy had typed himself.

“All those that have seen him say that with support he will be able to respond to treatment,” Mr Doig said. “Clearly the time already spent in custody has been of great assistance to him.

“It appears his reading age has moved on 12 months in the last six months and his behaviour has got better.”

The boy was also sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge after he admitted kicking two chickens to death.

Jan van Wagtendonk, the chair of Sunderland Local Safeguarding Children Board, said an independent serious case review had been ordered and it was not possible to comment further until the executive summary report was published.