Murder Of Toddler Could Not Have Been Anticipated

2 August 2016, 18:27

The murder of a toddler at the hands of her mother's partner could not have been anticipated, a case review has found.

Kevin Park was jailed for life for inflicting "horrific'' injuries on Madison Horn as he babysat her at the family home in Kelty, Fife, in April 2014.

Park, who was in a relationship with Madison's mother Annemarie White at the time, claimed she was hurt after falling from a bed.

He had a history of violence and drug and alcohol problems.

No concerns about the two-year-old's care or safety had been flagged to the authorities, and an independent review has found that Madison's death ``could not have been anticipated''.

The report, which refers to Madison as child A, said: "There was no evidence to suggest that any agency was aware of any concern regarding the child's well-being at the time or previously.

"Neither child A nor her mother were known to social work at the time and NHS Fife health records described child A as being a well-adjusted child who was meeting all her developmental milestones.

"There was no incident of direct abuse toward children by the partner or the mother known or recorded.

"Whilst research evidence is clear that domestic abuse within a household is a risk indicator of direct physical abuse toward children, in this case no such abuse had taken place against the mother and there was no immediate reason to suspect the partner would behave in the way he did.''

Madison was admitted to hospital with brain and other injuries while in the care of Park, 27, who had been in a relationship with her mother for around five months.

The High Court in Glasgow heard evidence that he repeatedly hit Madison's head against a wall.

The review found Park, who abused alcohol and drugs and had anger management problems, had a "long criminal history of violence'' and was the subject of a community Payback Order (CPO) and a Restriction of Liberty Order (RLO) imposed by the courts.

Lead reviewer Safaa Baxter called for better information sharing and collaboration between agencies, including the criminal justice social work service and the children and families social work services.

The report said: "With prolific offenders, who are likely to move from one partner to another, it is important that information passed from criminal justice and children and families does more than inform but should lead to consideration of the need for joint risk assessments using tools available to both criminal justice and children services.''

It went on: "Professionals should critically examine information presented by parents upon which they base decisions and not simply accept this as accurate.''

Alan Small, independent chairman of Fife's Child Protection Committee, said the death of Madison had "shocked and saddened all those who knew her''.

Responding to the report, he said: "There was no evidence to suggest that any agency was aware of any concerns about her well-being and neither she, nor her mother, were known to social work services.

"The report published today also states that certain aspects of this case could have been managed more effectively and identifies some learning points.

"There are robust information sharing procedures to help us share and manage information across agencies in Fife. The review found that in this instance more could have been done to ensure that these procedures were fully understood by all involved and that the information available was considered and fully analysed in respect of the potential risk posed by Kevin Park.

"In addition the report highlighted as a learning point continuity of the management of offenders for the agencies involved. We are committed to improving this aspect of work.

"We fully accept the report's findings and we are taking every opportunity to improve and strengthen our practices.''

The Care Inspectorate said it would look at the review in detail.

Chief executive Karen Reid said: "Where things go wrong, it is essential that the right lessons are learned and changes in practice are made and then embedded.

"It is everybody's responsibility to make sure children are safe, and the Care Inspectorate expects all services to work closely together to protect vulnerable people.

"We expect appropriate information to be shared and that rigorous assessments and care planning are undertaken to make sure people are protected and safe.''