Father and 'evil' stepmother guilty of killing Lauren, 6

Lauren Wright case: trial ends
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The Independent Online

The "evil and sadistic" stepmother of six-year-old Lauren Wright was convicted of her killing yesterday, as was the father who "turned a blind eye" to the abuse against her.

A jury at Norwich Crown Court found Tracey Wright, 31, and Craig Wright, 38, guilty of manslaughter and cruelty after a four-week trial. The pair will be sentenced at a later date.

Lauren's emaciated body was covered in 60 bruises and weighed just over two stone when she died on 6 May last year. The girl, whose digestive system collapsed after a severe blow to the stomach, died in agony, with "terrible and disgusting" injuries reminiscent of a car-crash victim, the court had been told.

Acting Chief Superintendent Martin Wright, who led the police investigation, said: "There will be a significant amount of satisfaction in many quarters that she has been convicted. Her behaviour can only be described as evil and sadistic and our thoughts, of course, will be with Lauren today."

The Department of Health ruled out a public inquiry after the Norfolk social services chief, David Wright, said he was writing to Lord Laming, the chairman of the hearings into the death of Victoria Climbie, another child abuse victim, to ask him to consider the case.

Norfolk social services said it was "desperately sorry" for failing Lauren. "Had we followed the procedures in place, Lauren would in all probability be alive today," Mr Wright said. A doctor had insisted Lauren's injuries were non-accidental almost two months earlier, but nothing had been done to take her away from the abuse.

The social worker in charge of the team resigned shortly after Lauren's death. Norfolk social services, which has come under fire for the deaths of three other children in recent years, said that resources were stretched to the limit, but acknowledged that human error was to blame for the failings.

An independent inquiry for Norfolk Area Child Protection Committee concluded that there had been a "crucial omission" in failing to convene a child protection conference, co-ordination was ineffective, and opportunities to make sense of the circumstances were missed. The inquiry also noted that the school she attended had no child protection officer.

The Wrights had denied the charges.Yesterday Tracey Wright's solicitors said that she would be reviewing the judgment to see whether any appeal was appropriate.

Further reports, page 11