Parents are found guilty of killing baby: Fifteen-month-old child found covered in sores and 'left to die'

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The Independent Online
THE PARENTS of a 15-month-old baby who died covered in sores in a urine-soaked pram were convicted of his manslaughter yesterday.

The court was told that when police went to their house after the baby's death it was infested with flies and vermin.

Detective Inspector Sue Akers, of Islington Child Protection Team, told the court: 'It is shocking to see a baby who has been left to die - but this was the worst case I have ever seen.'

The father, 44, and his 38-year-old wife whose low IQ put her in the 'the mild mental handicap range', were remanded on bail until 7 March for reports. Neither can be named for legal reasons.

The couple had both denied manslaughter and child cruelty. The father was also convicted of cruelty to three of their other six children - but his wife was cleared of cruelty charges.

The court was told that the baby boy was regularly abandoned while his father spent hours in a betting shop. The children were never placed on an 'at risk' register, but a social worker was appointed to help the family after it was decided they needed support and 'a nudge' to keep up basic standards. But she had not seen them in the months leading up to the baby's death in March last year because she was on strike and then unwell.

Oliver Blunt, defending the father, said: 'It is perhaps a tragedy that when the strike was concluded, no one was appointed as a replacement for the key worker. This couple needed help . . . because of the size of their family and because of their own inadequacies.'

The family was moved with the help of the social worker into a five- bedroomed council house renovated at a cost of pounds 106,000. The family paid less than pounds 4 a week for it but the father spent pounds 44 a week at the betting shop and pounds 21 went out of the family's budget on cigarettes. They existed on a diet of bread and food past its sell-by date - taken from a skip outside a shop.

The social worker told the court that whatever the problems, deficiencies and inadequacies of the situation, the children were happy.

Islington Area Child Protection Committee said an independent review of the case would be set up. An internal management review has already been carried out. 'The Area Child Protection Committee fully and collectively accepts its responsibility to take vigorous action to improve the protection of children in Islington in the light of lessons to be learnt from this tragic baby's death,' it said in a statement.

The court was told that the baby died after being left in a pram in the corner of his parents' bedroom, tied into his sodden baby clothes and left facing the wall. He was ignored and had little stimulation.

Eventually he developed ulcers and a nappy rash which covered 35 per cent of his body. Infection took over, followed by blood poisoning. He lapsed into a coma and died from pneumonia.

Doctors who examined the baby afterwards said they had never seen such a bad case of neglect. He was unwashed, unkempt and his finger nails were green.

The prosecution maintained that the parents must have know the baby was ill. Orlando Pownall, for the prosecution, said: 'At the very least they could have taken him to a doctor. If they had done so - even up to 12 hours before his death - he would have survived.'