Child Murdered By Mother Was Failed By Social Workers (Photos) - Opposing Views

Child Murdered By Mother Was Failed By Social Workers (Photos)

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Social workers could have done more to prevent the death of a British toddler who was murdered by her mother, according to an official case review.

The report, released on Sept. 5, concludes that Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith was repeatedly let down by Derbyshire County Council social services, notes the Daily Mail.

The child died in 2014 when her mother, Kathryn Smith, stamped on her chest, causing broken ribs and a fatal laceration of the heart. Medical experts said her injuries were so severe that they resembled those a high-speed car crash victim.

In 2016, Smith was given a minimum sentence of 19 years, and her boyfriend, Matthew Rigby, was jailed for three years and six months for his "failure to act" -- he did nothing to stop her.

The case review said social workers "missed danger signs" about Ayeeshia-Jayne's safety, while acknowledging that the child's murder could not have been predicted.

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Derbyshire County Council social services were aware of drug use, violence and child neglect at the home where the toddler lived, but ultimately decided to keep the mother and daughter together.

"An attitude of professional curiosity requiring practitioners to examine the lived experience of (Ayeeshia-Jayne) was often missing by all agencies," the report noted. "The needs of (Smith) overshadowed the needs of (Ayeeshia-Jayne) frequently."

The case review's executive summary provides further details.

Domestic arguments between (Smith and Rigby) led to police involvement and a growing sense of unease by professionals about once again the risks to (Ayeeshia-Jayne and Smith) of domestic violence.

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This led to a multi-agency risk assessment conference being held on 30th April 2014. The following day (Ayeeshia-Jayne) died.

It must be acknowledged that, whilst some risk elements were recognised, in the months leading up to the (Ayeeshia-Jayne's) death, it would appear the violence between (Smith) and her then partner was escalating, yet being [minimized] by her.

Professionals made much of the positive relationship observed between (Smith) and her child and this appeared to lead, at times, to a prevailing sense of optimism and a lack of professional curiosity about the current partner, violent incidents, drug use and his care history and background.

At Smith's sentencing in April 2016, the judge's message to her was blunt: "You are a devious, manipulative, selfish, young woman who would stop at nothing to get your own way."

Ayeesha-Jane's manner of death recalls the 2016 case of Abygaile Bennett, a 3-year-old from Nevada whose father allegedly punched her so hard in the chest that it burst her heart, as reported by the Daily Mail at the time.

Sources: Daily Mail (2) / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: South West News Service via Daily Mail, Press Association via Daily Mail

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