A man who was being investigated for the historic sexual abuse of a young girl left his baby daughter with life changing injuries.
Independent reviewer Amanda Clarke has made a series of recommendations following a serious case review into the injuries sustained by ‘Child V’ by her father when she was seven weeks old.
Child V’s parents lived together in Tameside, having met over the internet through their interests in online gaming and became a couple around five years prior.
According to the mother, their relationship was ‘mostly great’ and they were both happy when she became pregnant, having planned to have a child together.
Her pregnancy was routine and ‘uneventful’ with engagement from both parents.
The only time an ‘argument ever became serious’ during the course of their relationship was when the father threw a plate at a wall during an argument, but she denied ever having been a victim of domestic abuse.
The mother told the review that he had been happy to look after their daughter, and had ‘seemed a good dad’.
However the severity of the assault on their daughter saw Child V obtain abusive head trauma – often referred to as ‘shaken baby syndrome’.
Three weeks after Child V was born, a police detective from Greater Manchester Police visited the family to inform them about an allegation of sexual abuse which had been made against the father.
He was accused of an offence of sexual abuse dating back to 2009 against an 11-year-old girl when he lived in the Devon and Cornwall area.
Despite the allegations having been made in 2016, it was not until 2018 that any contact was made with the father to interview him.
After having kept the case ‘under review as a crime reported’, by 2017 Devon and Cornwall police had located the general area he lived, but were unaware that he was about to become a parent himself.
A request for support with the investigation to help them trace the father arrived with GMP in early 2018. An incorrect previous address had been supplied, which led to a further delay in locating him.
A police officer finally visited the home – where they saw the whole family together – but the ‘wider safeguarding issues of possible risk to the baby’ because of the nature of the allegations ‘were not noted or shared with any other agencies’.
“The possible risks to Child V by a person who was being investigated for non-recent sexual abuse on a child were not recognised,” the report states.
After being interviewed the father told the mother about what was alleged to have happened, and ‘denied everything’.
Following the conclusion of the investigation, he was not charged with any sexual offences.
Around four weeks after the contact with police, on the day that Child V was ‘seriously harmed’, a health visitor visited the family at home and spoke to both parents.
The mother explained she needed to go back to work – which was due to financial pressures on the family – and that the father would care for their baby while she was out.
According to the health visitor, Child V was observed as ‘alert and active, clean and appropriately dressed’.
There were no obvious concerns noted during the visit and the next contact was arranged, which would have been a nine to 12 months development check.
Later that day an ambulance was called to the home by the father who said that his daughter had become unwell.
However investigations at the hospital revealed she had suffered a ‘significant brain trauma’ believed to have been caused non-accidentally by shaking.
Initially the mother did not believe the father was responsible.
It was ‘very clear’ she knew shaking a baby was wrong and said she ‘thought everyone would know that as it’s common sense’.
But following police enquiries, the father was arrested and charged.
In 2019 he pleaded guilty to causing the injuries to Child V and was sent to prison, the review states.
“Described in court as ‘a momentary lack of control’ by father this, and other similar cases, demonstrates the devastating outcome for children who are victims of this type of abuse,” the report stated.
Child V was left with ‘life changing injuries’ but has been described by her carers as a ‘happy, sociable, strong baby’.
Following the review by the Tameside Safeguarding Children Board into the circumstances around and leading up to the incident, seven recommendations were made.
These included circulating greater aware of abusive head trauma, and prevention programmes in the Tameside area.
The partnership was told it should also explore the significance of adverse childhood experiences and the importance of professional enquiries about family histories.
The findings from the review must also be ‘widely disseminated’ across relevant police teams in Devon and Cornwall and Greater Manchester, especially to supervisory officers with responsible for review and monitoring of non-recent abuse cases.
The review was told that all GMP detectives now have enhanced safeguarding training which includes ‘wider safeguarding consideration’.
A general view of Ashton-under-Lyne. Photo: Charlotte Green LDR