Fatal Stabbing Of Foster Mother Dawn McKenzie Blamed On Failings Of Social Workers


A 13-year-old foster child living in Dawn McKenzie’s Scotland home in June 2011 waited for the woman’s husband to leave and then stabbed her 10 times because she had grounded him. A recent case review found that the fatal stabbing of the 34-year-old foster mother could not have been anticipated or prevented.

The teen, known in court documents only as “D,” was apparently upset with McKenzie for grounding him when he came home late. In the days before he murder, the High Court in Glasgow was told that D had lost the privilege of using his X-Box, mobile phone and laptop.

The court heard evidence that D was a victim of physical abuse in his natural family home and, as a result, never learned the difference between right and wrong. His defense said he was suffering from a “dissociative state” when he killed McKenzie, and he didn’t know the difference between real and unreal.

A broken end of the knife was found embedded in McKenzie’s skull.

D, now age 15, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide and was ordered held by the High Court in Edinburgh for seven years.

A review of D’s case history commissioned by Glasgow Child Protection Committee (GCPC) has been published ahead of a fatal accident inquiry into McKenzie’s murder. The review blames social workers who did not visit D for two months after he was placed in the McKenzie home, which is in breach of their legal duty.

The review stated that D showed no sign “whatsoever of aggression towards adults since he had been accommodated three years previously.”

There was “nothing remarkable in the boy’s behavior in the lead-up to this attack."

“Inadequate staffing, inexperienced staff, shortage of resources and disruption to supervisory and management structures all had an impact, not only at the time but in the longer term” were responsible for the killing.

“A somewhat more cautious interpretation of D’s progress might have been helpful in sensitizing them to the possible risks he presented, albeit that his extreme violence was unforeseeable,” the GCPC review said.

Understaffing and lack of time has since been addressed by the GCPC.

“[The panel] describes people who are skilled and able to do life-changing work,” said Ruth Stark MBE, spokeswoman for the Scottish Association of Social Workers. “But they acknowledge that this can only be done when the social workers have time to use their skills.”

McKenzie’s mother, Ray Burn, said she will never forgive the child who stabbed her daughter. Burn was disgusted with the teen’s sentence.

“When she got the news that she was fostering a child, I had never seen her so happy,” Burn said.

“We put our faith and trust in the justice system,” she told the Daily Record. “... Then last week he got seven years for culpable homicide. How am I supposed to cope with that? The real story is he will be out when he is 18 and my daughter’s not here.”

Sources: BBC News, Herald Scotland, Daily Record


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