Drug addict's killing of toddler 'not predicted'

The violent actions of a drug addict who killed his girlfriend's toddler son could not have been predicted, a report said today.

The finding was published in a review following the killing of 23-month-old Brandon Muir by Robert Cunningham, in Dundee last year.

Brandon died on 16 March from a ruptured intestine following the assault.

Drug abuser Cunningham, 23, was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year of culpable homicide and jailed for 10 years.

A review of the case found there was "little opportunity" to prevent the fatal assault on Brandon in the three three-week period when Cunningham moved in with the toddler and his mother, Heather Boyd.

And while it later became known Brandon's mother had been taking drugs and involved in prostitution, this had not come to the attention of the agencies she was involved with.

However, the findings of the review also identified issues affecting child protection in Dundee and made recommendations.

The significant case review was carried out by James Hawthorn, an independent social work consultant.

His findings were backed by an independent report by former chief constable of Fife Constabulary Peter Wilson.

Mr Hawthorn said: "From my examination of all the relevant records in this tragic case, and through interviews of almost 50 members of staff, I have concluded that while the assault which we now know took place on Brandon and which proved to be fatal, could not have been anticipated, there were weaknesses in both interagency working and in practice at that time."

Mr Hawthorn said there "needs to be a higher profile given to the impact on children of domestic abuse and substance misuse".

The sharing of information on drug addict Cunningham was "hindered by time and resource pressures on health visitors, social workers and police", he said.

But he added that the commitment of staff was "evident throughout".

Mr Wilson said the recommendations on the significant case review would lead to a "necessary tightening up of procedures", which he would monitor.