Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 17:10 UK

Tragedy 'could have been avoided'

Law House
Ms Galtricia was found next to her daughter's body in Barking

A judge has criticised social workers for not helping a young mother who killed her two-year-old daughter.

Trycia Balhous was stabbed five times by her mother Galtricia Ntsimbi, 23, at their flat in Law House in Barking, east London, on 14 August 2007.

The child died from a stab wound and her mother also had stab wounds.

Ntsimbi was sent to a mental hospital indefinitely after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

'Delusional disorder'

Six days before the stabbing Ntsimbi was arrested for harassing a local shop keeper and was referred to Barking and Dagenham social services by a police doctor.

But the Old Bailey heard that she was released without charge and did not receive any follow-up help.

The council had said she was found not to have any mental health care issues, but she was later found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Judge David Paget said: "It seems a thousand pities that his views (the doctor's) were not followed up more precisely. It might have avoided this tragedy."

Prosecutor Christopher Tehrani said the doctor thought Ntsimbi was suffering from a "fixed delusional disorder".

Mr Tehrani said: "He suggested a follow-up. The trouble was the defendant was referred to the local social services. There was no follow-up."

Ntsimbi came to Britain from France in 2006 and gave birth to Trycia after a short relationship.

'Tragic incident'

The girl's father had tried to get custody of her when she was six months old but was unsuccessful.

Ntsimbi's mother became concerned about her and came from Paris to be with her on 13 August.

After ordering her to bed at the flat in Maybury Road the mother heard screams and found Ntsimbi and the child covered in blood, said Mr Tehrani.

Barking and Dagenham council said: "This clearly was a tragic incident.

"The family only came to the attention of agencies a matter of days before Trycia's death and there was no history of intervention prior to this."

It said following the girl's death a serious case review was carried out on behalf of the Barking and Dagenham Local Safeguarding Children Board, which concluded that it was highly unlikely that Trycia's death could have been prevented.

Girl died from chest stab wound
16 Aug 07 |  London

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