Newborn baby was failed by council – social worker’s warnings were ignored

A judge has criticised social services at a district council for a “grave failure” which resulted in a newborn baby suffering multiple injuries at the hands of her inadequate parents, a court heard.

Social worker Sara Matty warned her bosses that the couple, from Weston-super-Mare, were incapable of caring for their child and urged that the baby be placed in a mother and baby residential unit.

Bristol Crown Court heard her concerns fell on deaf ears, the baby stayed with the parents and, after just 23 days of life, she was taken to accident and emergency where diagnosis of a fractured leg was followed by the finding of fractures all over her body.

The mother in her 30s and father in his 20s both pleaded guilty to causing cruelty to a child on the basis of neglect.

Judge David Ticehurst ordered they should not be named in order to protect the identity of the child.

He handed the mother a two-year community order and deferred sentence on the father until January 27 next year.

Judge Ticehurst told the pair they were improperly equipped to properly care for young children, but a young child should not have been allowed to remain with them.

He said: “That (the child) was left in the care of these inadequate parents when their inadequacies were known is a grave failure of social services at North Somerset Council. The director of social services should carry out a full investigation.

“For social services to take a decision as to the welfare of a child on the basis of cost and or a lack or resources should raise grave questions as to the management procedures of North Somerset Council.

“The welfare of children is too important to be subject to cost cutting measures.”

Robert Duval, prosecuting, told the court social worker Sara Matty saw the mother regularly and it was clear she had intellectual difficulties. The father was adopted, had learning difficulties and was diagnosed with ADHD and medicated to engage better with other children.

The court heard Ms Matty recommended that the baby be cared for in a mother and baby unit to ensure her welfare, but her recommendation was not followed. The baby was allowed home with her parents, with a regime of support from health care providers in the week and help from the father’s parents at weekends.

It was noted the father appeared to be “a bit clumsy” with the baby, and “inappropriate and childlike” in his handling of her.

The baby suffered a fractured leg, multiple rib fractures, a fractured right wrist, fractured right hip, fractures to her right and left knees and a fracture to her lower left leg. An MRI scan revealed she a skull haemorrhage and trauma to her brain tissue.

A statement from North Somerset Council said: “This family received extensive support and guidance from North Somerset Council as we attempted to keep them all together. Unfortunately this high level of support did not prevent these events from happening and we are deeply sorry for that.”