Care agencies failed but will not be blame in case of murdered Laura, says report

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The Independent Online

Care agencies failed to investigate properly the parental neglect of murdered schoolgirl Laura Kane, an inquiry revealed yesterday.

Care agencies failed to investigate properly the parental neglect of murdered schoolgirl Laura Kane, an inquiry revealed yesterday.

The nine-year-old was on Sunderland council's child protection register when she was abducted, raped and murdered by a family friend, Colin Bainbridge, last August. He was jailed for life two months ago at Newcastle.

Laura's family had been monitored by various agencies for 10 years. The inquiry into her death - standard practice after a child on the register dies - found concerns about parenting were "not followed up consistently and family standards remained unchallenged. The nature and extent of the neglect was much greater than was recognised".

The report, by an independent expert from Sunderland's multi-agency area child protection committee, said nothing could have been done to save Laura from the man who killed her.

"Whatever help the family were receiving, none of the agencies involved could have predicted this act of murder," the expert decided.

Lauralived with six brothers and sisters with their mother, 37-year-old Carol Kane in a two-bedroom terraced house near Sunderland.

The council's director of social services John Marsden said: "Care workers had failed to spot warning signs because of the family's circumstances.

"Poverty masked the abuse and neglect and people could not see ... what was going on in the family."No one had been disciplined and no individual was to blame for deficiencies in handling the case, he said.

The report set out 23 recommendations to improve the monitoring of at risk children, including steps to better collate the vast amount of information about families such as Laura's.

At Mrs Kane's request, her six remaining children were taken into care - the first time any of them had been removed from her - because she could not cope.

Yesterday, Mrs Kane insisted she was a good parent.

"I love all my children and as a single mum I looked after them to the best of my ability," she said."Nothing could have been done to prevent that evil man from getting to my little girl, but I resent the fact that they're saying I'm a bad parent."

Mrs Kane said she now wanted her children back, but that is unlikely to be soon.

Mr Marsden said: "Prompted by signals from the children and further investigations... there is no intention in the near future to return the children to their family environment."

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