Girl murdered by her uncle 'was failed by social services'

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The Independent Online

A schoolgirl who was tortured, raped and murdered by her uncle was repeatedly failed by child protection services, a damning report said yesterday.

Tia Rigg, 12, was killed by John Maden in such a sadistic way that the judge at his trial described it as a "truly exceptional" case and recommended that he should never be released from jail.

The 38-year-old, who had become obsessed with violent child porn and "snuff" videos, lured his sister's daughter to his home in Cheetham Hill, Greater Manchester, in April last year on the pretext of babysitting his nine-year-old daughter.

Maden drugged and bound his niece and subjected her to horrifying sexual injuries with a broom handle before being stabbed and strangled with a guitar wire. Last October, after Maden pleaded guilty to her murder at Manchester Crown Court, Mr Justice Keith gave him a mandatory life sentence.

A serious case review published yesterday said there were seven missed opportunities to help Tia, although it concluded her death could not have been "predicted or prevented" because there had been no prior evidence that her uncle posed a threat.

Nevertheless, Tia had come into contact with a number of agencies during her life who should have recognised she was at risk of harm and neglect because of her unstable home environment.

Yesterday Tia's mother, Lynne Rigg, 34, who has a criminal record for assault and robbery as well as a history of crack cocaine and heroin addiction, said she had spoken to personal injury lawyers about suing the authority for failing to protect the youngster.

The report by the Salford Safeguarding Children Board said Tia, one of seven children, had been placed on the Child Protection Register in 1997 before she was born after concerns about her mother's drug taking. Two years later she was taken off it as it was believed Ms Rigg's behaviour had improved. In 2003, the youngster and her siblings were placed in the care of other relations but five years later she returned to the family home.

"In this case there was an over-optimistic and unrealistic perception of (Ms Rigg's) capacity to care for the children," says the report. "During 2008 and 2009 there were numerous concerns about the children and a series of incidents relating to the children being left at home alone, increased levels of violence in the community, out-of-control drug use and increased examples of disturbed behaviour at school by Tia."

The report says information was not adequately analysed and shared between agencies. "In particular the decision to allow (Tia) and her siblings to return to their mother's care in 2008 and 2009 was not based on any firm evidence that there had been a substantial change... Similarly the decision to discontinue the Child Protection plans in May 2009 was based on the false premise that [Ms Rigg's] parenting had improved."

Councillor John Merry, leader of Salford council, said: "We know more could have been done during [Tia's] childhood to support her." Salford child protection services have been transformed since 2009 when a review revealed failings surrounding the murder of two-year-old Demi Leigh Mahon.