Toddlers murdered by father figures after agencies failed to flag their histories of domestic violence and crime, says review

‘At the heart of this is a young boy, just two years old, who died at the hands of a violent father,’ says Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board chair

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
@mayaoppenheim
Wednesday 05 June 2019 19:24
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Evelyn-Rose’s mother’s boyfriend Ryan Coleman, 23, was jailed for life for her murder
Evelyn-Rose’s mother’s boyfriend Ryan Coleman, 23, was jailed for life for her murder

The safety of two young children killed by father figures was “seriously undermined” after agencies ignored the significance of the killers’ criminal pasts and histories of domestic abuse, a serious case review has found.

The Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) said there were “lost opportunities” leading up to the deaths of two-year-old Dylan Tiffin-Brown in Northampton in December 2017 and one-year-old Evelyn-Rose Muggleton in Kettering in April last year.

Dylan’s father Raphael Kennedy, 31, murdered his two-year-old son in a “savage and sustained attack”. He waited more than an hour to dial 999 after inflicting 39 injuries on Dylan.

He beat the toddler, who had five different drugs in his system when he died, in a fit of temper, Northampton Crown Court previously heard.

In Dylan’s case, the NCSB concluded that agencies “failed to fully appreciate the significance of [Kennedy’s] chronic history of domestic abuse and extensive history with the police for drug-related offences”.

The report suggested other factors such as a significant level of agency sick leave and high turnover of staff also played a role in the missed opportunities.

Keith Makin, chair of the NSCB, said: “At the heart of this is a young boy, just two years old, who died at the hands of a violent father.

Dylan Tiffin-Brown

“Perhaps chief among the learning from this tragic case is how agencies need to improve information-sharing within their own organisations as well as between partners.

“The report recommends a further review of training to ensure ‘think child’ is front and centre when it comes to the way safeguarding professionals approach every case. There can’t be a clearer message than that.”

Raphael Kennedy

Evelyn-Rose’s mother’s boyfriend Ryan Coleman, 23, was jailed for life for her murder. The girl died days after being found at a house in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

Evelyn-Rose was found to have multiple bruising and bleeding injuries on her brain and spine, and 31 external injuries, including damage to both eyes.

The NSCB said two social workers had been assigned to the case which had started to “drift, with little if any attention being paid to the children’s welfare”.

The review said there were missed opportunities with police involvement, including Coleman being bailed to a non-specific address after initial questioning and returning to Evelyn’s mother’s home – which was in breach of his community order.

Despite not complying with the community order, a risk assessment was not followed up after further offending and Coleman’s “significant” criminal history.

Mr Makin said: “This is another extremely distressing case in which a young life has been taken. This was a very challenging review, but it has identified several areas of weakness among the agencies involved.

Ryan Coleman

“Agencies collectively failed to share information that may have built up an overall picture of low-level neglect that would have ensured more effective intervention than what actually happened.”

The serious case review recommended an improvement in information-sharing between agencies after the missed opportunities in the two cases.

Police forces warning about risks posed by an adult’s behaviour towards a child “should be taken more seriously”, the NSCB also said.

During a three-week trial, Kennedy told the court he was “not the perfect parent” and admitted he made his living dealing crack cocaine and heroin.

In a previous statement, Dylan’s mother said he was “the most perfect little boy you could ever meet”.

She said: “He had a smile as bright as the sun, his eyes were crystals like the stars above and his love was the best feeling in the world. Knowing I won’t get to hold my baby again leaves a pain like no other.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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