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Willie Johnston reports
"Kennedy's natural parents expressed hatred for Duncan"
 real 56k

Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 20:04 GMT
Inquiry call into child killing
High Court sign
Duncan appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh
The parents of a murdered three-year-old girl have called for an inquiry into why social services allowed the killer to look after their daughter.

Kennedy McFarlane died in hospital last May after Thomas Duncan hit her on the head and sent her spinning across her bedroom, colliding with a bed.

Judge Lord Bonomy told the 33-year-old at the High Court in Edinburgh that his wicked act had destroyed a potentially wonderful life.

The accused was living with the child's mother at the time and admitted to the act.

He struck her a blow with his hand. It was a blow which hit her somewhere on the head

Donald Findlay QC, defending
Duncan had alleged he had only lost his temper for a moment when the youngster told him "I hate you".

Jailing Duncan for life, Lord Bonomy told him he had carried out "a murderous attack involving an appalling degree of violence".

Outside the Edinburgh courtroom, Kennedy's natural father Chris McFarlane and mother Vicky said they had nothing but hatred for Duncan.

They called on social services bosses at Dumfries and Galloway to say why they had missed the warning signs and allowed Kennedy to remain in the care of Duncan.

'Extremley sorry'

Social workers had known since earlier this year that Kennedy could be in danger. It also emerged that there had been a delay in investigating and reporting on the case.

But Keith Makin, from Dumfries and Galloway Social Services, defended his team saying: "The ultimate blame has to lie with Duncan, and for that we are extremely sorry. Our systems have not failed to the extent that certain actions were not taken and that led to the death."

Duncan at the High Court
Duncan is led away
The court was told that a post mortem examination revealed an unusual spinal injury.

The pathologist compared it to the result of a 20ft fall or a road accident.

Donald Findlay QC, defending, said Duncan was carrying the girl back to her bed when she squirmed out of his grasp and said she hated him.

Mr Findlay said: "He struck her a blow with his hand. It was a blow which hit her somewhere on the head."

The youngster lost her balance and when Duncan hauled her to her feet he pushed her away from him "in a dismissive gesture."

'Loss of temper'

She struck the edge of her bed, causing the back injury.

Kennedy McFarlane
Kennedy McFarlane: Died in May
Mr Findlay said: "He knew with the death of the child that he had killed the child and that is not an easy matter to face up to."

The blows were, said Mr Findlay, inflicted "in a moment of loss of temper".

Duncan now wished to say sorry to members of the family, although he knew his apology would be rejected.

Kennedy's mother Vicky said: ""I just feel it is so sad that he had the ability to murder a three-year-old child in the way that he did it.

"Thomas Duncan sat for four days making us believe that Kennedy died from some natural cause, knowing what he had done. I cannot forgive a man for something like that."

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