Police and care authorities launched an investigation on Saturday after it was revealed a young mother suspected of killing herself and two children had previously vanished with her boys.
Katherine Hooper, 24, is believed to have jumped from a 100ft cliff in Dartmoor National Park on Friday with her five-year-old son Joshua Patterson on her shoulders. Her younger son, Samuel, who was two, was later found dead at the family home. Ms Hooper had been the subject of a Safeguarding Partnership intervention – an alliance of the council, NHS and police involving vulnerable adults who may be in need of community care services because of mental illness or abuse.
Last May, officers from the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team were called after the family disappeared. Ms Hooper was found 24 hours later reportedly covered in mud and suffering from dehydration. She was then taken to hospital while her two sons were taken into care. Two weeks ago, the family moved back into their home.
A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: "This investigation will now be referred to a serious case review process. The partner agencies are assisting police with the investigation."
It emerged yesterday that Ms Hooper's estranged partner and the father of the boys, Neil Patterson, was due to appear in court in the coming weeks on a charge of assaulting Ms Hooper at their home in April. Mr Patterson, a builder, was granted bail and neighbours suggested the coming court case had been worrying for Ms Hooper. In a statement released through police the 52-year-old said he was "devastated".
Jonathan Grant, 28, Ms Hooper's neighbour, said that following the breakdown of her relationship, Ms Hooper became very anxious and became too unwell to carry on her job at a local hotel.
Debbie Main, the headteacher of Roselands Primary School, where Joshua was a pupil, said: "We are all extremely shocked and saddened by this tragic news. Joshua was an amazing little boy whose bubbly personality and huge smile brightened everyone's day."
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