Social workers could not have predicted Amber Gibson’s murder, review finds

An independent review has found council staff could not have predicted a 16-year-old girl they were tasked to look after would be murdered by her brother.

The learning review, carried out by South Lanarkshire Child Protection Committee, said social workers and other professionals involved in the care of Amber Gibson (pictured) could not have foreseen what happened to her in Hamilton in November 2021.

Connor Gibson, 21, was found guilty of attacking his sister in woodland, removing her clothes, sexually assaulting with the intention of raping her, inflicting blunt force trauma to her head and body, and strangling her following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

He was handed a life sentence and ordered to spend a minimum of 22 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole when he was sentenced at the High Court in Livingston.

Sentencing Gibson, judge Lord Mulholland said: “What you did was truly evil.”

The learning review, published this week, said the siblings had been known to social services “since birth” and were removed from the care of their natural parents in 2008.

It said they both subsequently received “intensive support” from a range of children and family services and this continued up until Amber’s death.

The document noted: “It was evident throughout this learning review that all professionals working with both young people had the young people’s health and wellbeing at the core of their work.

“There was evidence throughout the young people’s care journey of practitioners’ stickability and commitment to support them through their transition into adulthood.”

The document added although it had been found Amber’s murder “could not have been predicted” by professionals, the review had identified “practice and organisational learning” to be undertaken.

Amber was reported missing on the evening of November 26 and her body was discovered in Cadzow Glen in Hamilton two days later.

During her murder trial, Glasgow High Court heard how evidence from forensic pathologists showed she had died as a result of compression of her neck.

When Gibson was convicted, the former foster family of both siblings said in a statement that Amber was “the most giving, loving, supportive and admirable person”, and their lives would “never be the same again”.

Professor Soumen Sengupta, director of health and social care at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “Our thoughts remain with everyone who loved and cared for Amber, and who continue to mourn her.

“The circumstances of Amber’s death were truly terrible and are deeply distressing.

“As a young adult, Amber was just at the start of the next chapter of her life when she was so brutally robbed of her future.

“It is of very little consolation that the guilty parties are now in prison paying for their horrific crimes.

“We welcome the conclusion of the independent learning review and note its key finding that Amber’s murder could not have been predicted by our staff or any of the professionals who were involved in the care of her or her brother.

“The review also noted that it was evident that all the professionals who worked with both young people did so with a focus on their health and wellbeing through often very challenging times.

“All the agencies involved are committed to responding to its recommendations. Wherever we can make improvements for the children and young people in our care we will strive to do that.”

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