BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 16:52 GMT
Climbie official had 'psychotic illness'
Carole Baptiste
Carole Baptiste faces criminal proceedings
A social worker was developing a "serious psychotic mental illness" while overseeing the Victoria Climbie case, the public inquiry into the eight-year-old's death has been told.

Carole Baptiste, 39, was in charge of the investigation and assessment team at Haringey social services in north London in the run-up to Victoria's death in February last year.

The inquiry was told that during 1999 Ms Baptiste showed symptoms of mental illness but believed she was suffering from stress.


I have no real understanding about my mental state at that time

Carole Baptiste
She discussed her problems with her line manager but no written report was made about them, even though they could have affected her professional performance, she told the inquiry.

A report prepared for the inquiry by a consultant psychiatrist concluded that she was clinically depressed and suffering from a severe psychotic illness, which she was unaware of, her counsel Peter Herbert said.

Reading from the report he added: "It is likely that Ms Baptiste was developing a serious psychotic mental illness during 1999.

"It is likely that this mental illness would have impaired her capacity to function as a social work team leader.

"In particular I would expect that her capacity to work would have been lower than before she developed the mental illness and that her capacity to take decisions would have been impaired.

Victoria Climbie
Victoria had 128 injuries on her body when she died
"Given later events it is reasonable to suppose that she would not have been aware of the fact that she was becoming ill."

Victoria died after months of abuse and torture by her carers - her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and Kouao's boyfriend, Carl Manning.

Kouao, 44, and Manning, 29, were convicted of her murder and jailed for life in January 2001.

As team manager Ms Baptiste was in charge of supervising Lisa Arthurworrey, the social worker who handled Victoria's case.

Ms Baptiste allocated Victoria's case to Miss Arthurworrey despite knowing she was dealing with up to 19 other cases.

Spiritual warfare

She told the inquiry that she should have looked more thoroughly at Victoria's case file.

Between July and October 1999 she claimed she was unaware of the extent of Victoria's abuse because it had been hidden by Kouao and Manning.

A hospital misdiagnosis of Victoria's injuries as the skin disease scabies added to this oversight, she said.

She told the inquiry that her mental illness problems were beginning to show through her memory loss, difficulty with numbers and grappling with concepts.

She thought these lapses were due to stress triggered by widespread restructuring within her department and several home moves.

By January 2000, one month before Ms Baptiste officially took redundancy, these lapses were confirmed as mental illness, the inquiry was told.

She had effectively stopped acting as team manager from November 1999.

'No real understanding'

Even now she is unable to properly put her mental illness into complete perspective.

She told the inquriy: "I have no real understanding about my mental state at that time and I think that is the nature of the mental unwellness, that you know it can be hard to define unless you try and find the time to speak about it."

Throughout 1999 Ms Baptiste, a born-again Christian, had also become involved with a "charismatic church" called Rhema ministry.

It believes in aggressive prayer and spiritual warfare to help provide a base for Bible teaching, reinforcing practical Christian living.

This coincided with her declaring she had been baptised and discussing her religious beliefs and experiences with colleagues at work.

Ms Baptiste has been described as "unsupportive and unfocused" as a supervisor and as a "chaotic manager" by former colleagues who have given evidence.

The inquiry has been adjourned until Friday.


Key stories

Background

THE TRIAL

TALKING POINT
See also:

15 Jan 02 | England
03 Dec 01 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes