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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 16:11 GMT
Social worker admits mistakes
Victoria Climbie, Kouao and Manning
Victoria Climbie (centre) was murdered by Kouau and Manning
The social worker responsible for the safety of child abuse victim Victoria Climbie saw her for less than 30 minutes in the seven months before her death, an inquiry has heard.

Lisa Arthurworrey said she now realised it was "appalling" that she never got past asking the eight-year-old "How are you?" on the four occasions they met.

She decided Victoria was not at risk of "significant harm" and closed the case a week before she died from horrific injuries.

Miss Arthurworrry told the inquiry into Victoria's death she had only been a social worker for 18 months when she took charge of her case and the atmosphere in her office at Haringey Council, north London, was one of conflict.

New life

Victoria died with 128 injuries in February of last year and her great-aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, 44, and boyfriend, Carl Manning, 28, were later jailed for life for her murder.


I remember knocking and I remember thinking it sounds very quiet ... I knocked again. There was no response and then I left

Lisa Arthurworrey
social worker
Miss Arthurworrey, 32, said she only met Victoria away from both of them on two occasions and decided she was part of a family having difficulty starting a new life in Britain.

She said: "The interviews with Kouao and also the information that I had with regard to the family situation gave me a history which suggested that this was a family struggling to find their feet in a new country as opposed to a new child abuse case."

Asked about her time with Victoria, she said 30 minutes was a "generous" estimate and she never got past saying: "Hello, how are you?".

She added: "Looking back...it was appalling."

Spot check

Miss Arthurworrey also told the inquiry about one spot check when she knocked repeatedly on the door of Victoria's flat in Tottenham.

Victoria Climbie's social worker Lisa Arthurworrey
Lisa Arthurworrey saw Victoria four times
She said: "I remember knocking and I remember thinking it sounds very quiet ... I knocked again. There was no response and then I left."

Miss Arthurwerry said she did not try a neighbour's flat to inquire if anyone had been there.

Commenting on the atmosphere in her office she said: "There was always something happening. There was never peace.

"Management would be falling out with somebody almost every day."

The inquiry continues.


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