Boy attackers under social services' care

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The Independent Online

Pressure was growing today for answers as to why two young brothers were able to carry out a vicious attack on a nine-year-old boy and his 11-year-old uncle while under the care of social services.

Doncaster Council have refused to comment on the case in detail and said a Serious Case Review is under way to "establish if there are lessons to be learned by any agency involved."

Yesterday, the two young brothers admitted subjecting their victims to a sustained "horror" attack.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how the older victim pleaded to be left to die after his ordeal at the hands of the brothers, who were aged 10 and 11 at the time.

The details of the attack in Edlington, South Yorkshire, have led many to draw comparisons with the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993.

The victims were hit with sticks and bricks, one had a sink dropped on his head, one had a noose put round his neck and the other was burned with a cigarette on his eyelids and ear.

The younger boy had a sharp stick rammed into his arm and cigarettes pushed into the gaping wound. Their tormentors also tried to force the boys to perform sex acts on each other.

The nine-year-old tried to ram a stick down his own throat after he was told to "go away and kill himself" by one of his tormentors.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who has established the Centre for Social Justice, today said he was appalled by the attacks and repeated his calls for early intervention.

He told Radio 5 Live that those who called for more discipline had to be cautious.

He said: "There is discipline and discipline. The sort of discipline these kids have received is arbitrary and often incredibly violent. So it is not that they didn't have discipline, it is the discipline was completely pointless.

"In their case - it was just simply a case of just savaging them."

Yesterday, the brothers admitted causing their victims grievous bodily harm with intent.

They denied a more serious charge of attempted murder but the prosecution accepted their pleas and said there would be no trial.

The boys will be sentenced at a later date, probably in early November, after a series of reports have been prepared.

Peter Bradley, deputy director of the anti-bullying and anti-child abuse charity Kidscape, said it was vital that an urgent review was carried out.

He said: "This was an horrific attack which must have been a terrible experience for the young boys involved. There has been a substantial failing in the system between the authorities involved.

"It appears not one agency has taken responsibility for these children. They have fallen through the net which is designed to protect them and others.

"Kidscape urges all the agencies involved to undertake a review. To find out why the system has failed and to ensure this doesn't happen again."