Fury as Baby P stepfather is guilty of raping girl aged two

Council under fire because child was on 'at risk' register / Baby P's mother cleared of child cruelty by jury

Haringey council faced fresh condemnation last night after Baby P's stepfather was convicted of raping a two-year-old girl who was also on the authority's at risk register.

The 32-year-old man, who still cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty at the Old Bailey yesterday. He showed no emotion as the verdict was returned. Baby P's mother, who also still has her anonymity protected, was charged with child cruelty after she allegedly saw the rape take place but did nothing to stop it. She was found not guilty and mouthed "thank you" to the jury before breaking down and sobbing in the dock.

The pair will be sentenced on 22 May, alongside their 36-year-old lodger Jason Owen, for causing or allowing the death of Baby P – who can now be known by his real name of Peter. The rape conviction will be dealt with at the same time. Police had wanted to avoid bringing the rape trial, so as not to put the young girl through the ordeal of giving evidence, but in order to ensure that Peter's stepfather gets a life sentence and is put on the sex offenders register, decided they had to.

In a highly unusual move to give the defendants a fair trial, the judge imposed a complete reporting ban and in a legal first, agreed that they should be given false names in court.

It was only after they returned their verdicts, after 14 hours and 45 minutes of deliberation, that the jury was told of the defendants' previous crimes.

After the trial, Haringey said it had launched a fresh Serious Case Review into the rape case. The council also released excerpts from the Serious Case review it carried out into Peter's death. He died aged 17 months in August 2007 after being abused despite being on the council's at risk register and being seen by social workers 60 times.

Graham Badman, chairman of the Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: "The review concludes that Baby P's horrifying death could and should have been prevented. It says if doctors, lawyers, police and social workers had adopted a more urgent, thorough and challenging approach the case would have been stopped in its tracks at the first serious incident. Baby P deserved better from the services there to protect him."

Mr Badman, a Government adviser and visiting professor at the University of London, added: "The review says that cases like that of Baby P do not involve problems that are restricted to Haringey. Lessons need to be learned more widely. Services generally need to place greater emphasis upon improvement in parenting."

The council sacked three managers and a social worker, Cecilia Hitchen, Clive Preece, Gillie Christou and Maria Ward on Wednesday. But it has been suggested that the sackings were timed to pre-empt more criticism.

The Children's secretary Ed Balls said: "People will be horrified to learn that an adult in the household of Baby Peter has also committed another vile and disgusting crime against a small and vulnerable child. This conviction means sentencing can now begin and justice can be done for this crime and the terrible death of Baby Peter."

The local MP Lynne Featherstone said: "This is yet another tragedy in Haringey connected with Baby P. We desperately need a public inquiry."

The rapes, of which the girl said there were three, happened in a bedroom of a house in Haringey, north London, between February and August 2007. Her ordeal only ended when Peter's stepfather was arrested following his death in August 2007.

But it was not until October 2007 that the girl told her foster carer what had happened to her. In a recorded interview with police, she said that as the attack was happening a woman walked in, but did nothing to stop it, save for wagging her finger at her boyfriend and telling him not to do it again.

After the tape was played, the girl, via a video link, became the youngest rape victim to give evidence at the Old Bailey. She played with two teddy bears and a toy hedgehog as she was asked in cross examination if she knew what "fibbing" was. She said: "It means you are lying". When asked if she was "telling fibs" she shook her head.

But when asked about the rape incident she refused to speak. Staring at the camera, she sat silently for nearly five minutes at one point as the court waited for her to answer. The court also heard from other witnesses the girl told about the rape, but the defence teams called no witnesses, preferring not to put Peter's killers on the stand. Instead the jury was told about what each had said in police interviews.

Peter's mother refused to answer questions when arrested, but did give the police a statement in which she said she had never seen her boyfriend sexually abuse a child. She added: "I would have stopped him myself and contacted the police." Her boyfriend denied the rape and also went on to defend his treatment of Peter, saying that he had never hurt the child and claimed he had given him a better life.

Speaking after the verdicts Judge Kramer warned the couple: "The likelihood is of very substantial sentences in both cases."

Detective Chief Inspector Graham Grant said that the case had shocked his child abuse investigation team "to the core". He added: "There is no doubt that Peter and this young girl suffered terribly at the hands of these people. There were many lies to conceal the violent treatment of Peter and the sexual abuse of a toddler.

"It is telling that this man denied rape and forced a very young and vulnerable child to endure a daunting criminal trial at the Old Bailey. Her resilience is extraordinary and I sincerely hope that ... she will be able to lead a happy and fulfilled life."

Haringey Council leader Claire Kober said: "We accept that things went badly wrong with our child protection services in 2007. Now it is our job to put them right. I am determined that we will make the changes necessary. That work is already well under way but we have more to do."

Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the children's charity NSPCC, said: "The brutal death of Baby Peter and the rape of a two-year-old girl are among the most heinous crimes against small children we have ever seen.

"They leave all decent people bewildered and revolted. Thankfully, those responsible have been convicted. Hopefully they will receive severe prison sentences which will keep them away from children for a very long time.

"The violence, neglect and sexual brutality inflicted on these babies cuts deep into all our hearts – what happened to them is the stuff of nightmares. But tragically it is not unique. It is all too common for babies and toddlers to be abused behind closed doors."

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence