Review reports back on murder of disabled girl

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The Independent Online

Welfare officials have been given a series of recommendations following a probe into the murder of a four-year-old girl by her mother.

Joanne Hill, 33, of Flintshire, North Wales, drowned her daughter Naomi in a bath because she could not cope with the little girl's disability.

Naomi had cerebral palsy and suffered walking and hearing difficulties.

Her mother was jailed for life at Chester Crown Court in September last year after being convicted of murder.

The jury dismissed Hill's defence that she was mentally ill and "blocked out" her emotions when she drowned Naomi in November 2007.

After the case, Naomi's father Simon Hill branded his wife "evil" and a Serious Case Review (SCR) was ordered by Flintshire Council.

The review, which reported back today, found there were "no serious failings" by health and social workers involved with the family.

But the authors recommended, and the council has accepted, four recommendations for improvements to services.

The recommendations are:

:: Carers of patients receiving mental health services should be more fully involved with those working with their relatives.

:: Crisis teams dealing with mental health emergencies should have a clearer point of contact for patients and their carers.

:: More information should be sought from people making referrals to mental health teams.

:: Midwifery services should give greater consideration to mental health issues.

Susan Lewis, chairwoman of Flintshire's Local Safeguarding Children Board, said in the report: "There are no serious failings identified within this review.

"The review looked in great detail at the history surrounding the circumstances leading up to the death of (Naomi), the knowledge of professionals directly involved with the child and also the mental health services experienced by her mother.

"Nevertheless, no matter how good our services are, we are never complacent.

"Accordingly, the authors have recommended, and we have accepted, a range of recommendations which we have already started to pursue in advance of this publication."

Hill, who had long history of mental health problems, admitted killing her daughter after failing to convince her husband that Naomi should be put up for adoption.

The trial heard that in early 2007 she suffered a serious relapse of her depressive illness and was being treated at home with visits from nurses twice each day.

On the evening of November 26, following an apparent improvement in her condition, Hill got drunk and killed her daughter by drowning her in the bath.

She then dressed Naomi in blue denim dungarees and a pink and yellow top before putting her in the family Renault Megane along with her handbag and a bottle of wine.

For the next eight hours Hill drove around between Deeside and Chester, stopping to drink the wine, buy another bottle and get petrol - as her dead daughter remained in the back seat.

She eventually drove to the Countess of Chester Hospital where she carried her daughter into A&E screaming for help.