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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 20:51 GMT
Climbié social worker tells of anguish
Victoria Climbie, Kouao and Manning
Victoria Climbie (centre) suffered months of abuse
The social worker who handled the case of Victoria Climbié has told the public inquiry into the eight-year-old's death she suffered depression after being "scapegoated".

Victoria died in February last year after being found with 128 separate injuries to her body, having suffered months of torture in one of Britain's worst child abuse cases.

Her great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao, 44, and boyfriend Carl Manning, 28, were convicted of her murder in January and were jailed for life.

I feel physically sick at the thought of the abuse that Victoria suffered

Lisa Arthurworrey
Social worker
Lisa Arthurworrey, who closed Haringey social services' file on Victoria, said she had become almost obsessed with her involvement in the case, in a statement to the inquiry.

But she insisted that the media had "scapegoated" her and Pc Karen Jones for not preventing the death when there were wider problems.

Ms Arthurworrey, who says she has been suffering from chronic insomnia and depression since the case, has been suspended since the case.

In the statement, she told the public inquiry of her continuing horror at the manner of Victoria's death, saying: "I feel physically sick at the thought of the abuse that Victoria suffered which ultimately resulted in her death.

File closed

"I did not use to have any health problems but now I suffer from chronic insomnia and depression."

Victoria had been kept in a bath, bound and gagged and fed on scraps like a dog.

Ms Arthurworrey says she had too little information to work on.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see how I was completely duped by Kouao and Manning

Ms Arthurworrey
"With the benefit of hindsight I can see how I was completely duped by Kouao and Manning," she said in her statement.

"They presented themselves as very plausible adults and I did not see through the respectable facade they had put up.

"Victoria did not appear to be at all scared or nervous of either Manning or Kouao.

"Although Victoria was making disclosures of a sexual abuse nature she did not appear to be upset at all or disturbed by this."

She said if there had been a clear diagnosis of non-accidental injury from the North Middlesex Hospital, Victoria's case would have been handled "completely differently".

Case's effect

"The fact that Victoria's case was high risk was never conveyed to me nor was I directed to involve a child protection advisor," she added.

Ms Arthurworrey said the effect of the case on her life had been catastrophic.

"I consider myself to be a strong person but at times I have felt as if I was on the verge of a breakdown.

"I keep playing my involvement with her over and over in my head like a continuous tape.


Ms Arthurworrey said the child protection team dealing with Victoria was "chaotic" and "inexperienced".

She likened the team to a school where social workers were "children who should be seen and not heard".

She claimed supervising sessions with manager Carole Baptiste were spent mainly discussing "other things".

Ms Arthurworrey said: "Supervision sessions would either start with her (Baptiste) discussing her experiences as a black woman and her relationship with God.

"Then we would get on to discuss cases but then we would not have time to finish discussing cases because most of the time was spent discussing other things."

In a statement to the inquiry she said: "After receiving Victoria's file in August 1999, I had responsibility for 19 files. The 10 child protection cases included eight sexual abuse cases."

The closing summary in Victoria's case stated that there were "unresolved issues".

But Miss Arthurworrey alleged that another manager, Angella Mairs, removed that contact sheet from the file.

The inquiry continues.

The BBC's Kim Catcheside
"She told the enquiry she was over worked"
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