Tot’s Death Was Result of Sustained Abuse
Parents of a 16-week-old baby who died after suffering dozens of fractures could see the criminal investigation into her death reopened. Little Chloe Thomas had suffered 40 fractures to her ribs, and other breaks to her skull, wrists and legs, when she stopped breathing at her Bridgend home in April, 2003. Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell said there was no doubt in her mind the child had been the victim of ‘sustained’ abuse, as she returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
A murder charge against her father, Ceri Thomas, 23, was dropped earlier this year, but he and Chloe’s mother, Sarah Scott, 20, both pleaded guilty to child cruelty. But the case against the pair could now be reopened following the coroner’s verdict.
The court had heard earlier this week how Chloe was being ‘walked’ by her parents when she was just 12-weeks-old. And how Sarah, who fell pregnant at 15, gave tea to her new born baby when she ran out of milk. Yesterday the pair told the inquest how Ceri had discovered baby Chloe at the foot of the bed, not breathing and as ‘white as a ghost’.
The coroner said Chloe, who had been placed on an at risk register just weeks before she died, had suffered ‘devastating head injuries’.
During the summing up in the five-day inquest, she said: ‘Some if not all of Chloe’s injuries were undoubtedly caused non-accidentally.’ But when asked how she had got the fractures, Ceri said: ‘I don’t know where the injuries came from but it could have been down to mine and Sarah’s inexperience and not accepting any help from social services.
But Coroner Mary Hassell said: ‘There’s no doubt in my mind this little girl experienced a sustained pattern of abuse which resulted in her death.’ She added she would be contacting the heads of the Bridgend Area Child Protection Committee, Bridgend Social Services, the Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust and the National Assembly, to safeguard ‘future Chloes’.
Speaking after the inquest Sarah’s aunt, Sian Casey, who had reported her concerns about Chloe’s welfare, said: ‘I have no confidence this couldn’t happen again.’
Tony Garthwaite, an executive director at Bridgend council, said: ‘Our first and foremost thoughts continue to be for baby Chloe. We shall be giving careful consideration to the coroner’s verdict and also examining any other relevant information which emerged during the inquest.’
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: ‘The police may review the case in light of the findings, and following any review, should they ask the CPS to reconsider the evidence, then the case will be subject to such reconsideration.’