Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Review ordered after abuse death

A bloody T-shirt worn by the dead boy
The boy had been visited 60 times by care teams and health workers

The death of a 17-month-old boy after months of abuse, despite him being on an at-risk register, has sparked a review of child protection in England.

It comes as two men were found guilty of causing his death in August 2007.

The boy, from Haringey, north London, suffered 50 injuries, and the case has revealed a series of failings by social workers, health workers and police.

The case is described as worse than that of Victoria Climbie, who was murdered in Haringey in 2000.

Lord Laming, who chaired the inquiry into eight-year-old Victoria's death, has now been asked to prepare "an independent report of progress made across the country".

He described the latest case as "dispiriting".

Judith Reed of the CPS gave her reaction to the verdict

"It would be awful wherever it happened, but it seems particularly sad that it has happened in the same area where Victoria experienced this awful cruelty and a terrible death and involved the very same services," he said.

"One of the marked differences with this child is that this child had already been identified as being in danger of being deliberately harmed."

The death of Victoria Climbie prompted a complete rethink about looking after vulnerable children.

In his report, Lord Laming found agencies were passing the buck and not communicating. He made various recommendations and demanded major legal and structural change.

Warnings given

During the court case it emerged that the boy - known as Baby P - had been visited 60 times over eight months by social workers, police and health professionals.

After a nine-week trial, Jason Owen, 36, from Bromley, and a 32-year-old man were convicted on Tuesday of "causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person".

A computer-generated image showing the injuries the child suffered

The boy's mother had pleaded guilty to causing the death of the child and all three will be sentenced on 15 December.

The mother and her 32-year-old boyfriend cannot be named for legal reasons.

Two social workers and a lawyer have been given warnings over the case.

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes told BBC News that questions needed to be asked of Haringey Council.

"I certainly want to investigate further the situation in Haringey," she said.

"I think it's perfectly reasonable given that this happened before in the same place eight years ago.

"A second child should not have died in these circumstances, when the authorities were aware that probably abuse was taking place."

Crucial failure

The child was found dead in his blood-splattered cot on 3 August 2007.

The jury heard how the blond-haired boy was once a happy and smiling infant but after months of being used as a "punchbag", he became dead-eyed, hollow-cheeked and unrecognisable.

Two days before he died, a doctor failed to spot that his back and ribs were broken, later claiming the child was "miserable and cranky".

This case is worse than Climbie. The signs were there and not followed
Mor Dioum, Victoria Climbie foundation

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat no longer works at Great Ormond Street Hospital, which provides paediatric services for Haringey, but she is appealing against the decision not to renew her contract.

Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of the hospital, said: "Dr Al-Zayyat should have identified the possibility that he had suffered non-accidental injuries.

"Whether that would have made a difference we shall never know."

An internal inquiry by Haringey's Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) blamed legal advice taken a week before the baby's death for the decision not to take him into care.

It found "numerous examples" of good practice in the case although there had been "weaknesses" in information flow.

Sharon Shoesmith, chair of the board, said: "The very sad fact is that we can't stop people who are determined to kill children."

She insisted lessons had been learned since Victoria Climbie, who was murdered by her great-aunt and the woman's partner.

Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbie foundation, which campaigns to improve child protection, called for a public inquiry.

"This case is worse than Climbie. The signs were there and not followed," he said.

Police investigations

The child's mother had been arrested twice for suspected child cruelty. The day before her son died, she was told by police she would not be prosecuted.

Detective Superintendent Caroline Bates said: "With hindsight, having the benefit of a major investigation, we know quite clearly that the mother was lying and trying to subvert agencies involved with the family."

The court heard the mother had manipulated the agencies involved in her son's welfare, once concealing bruises by smearing him with chocolate.

Described by an officer in the case as a "slob, completely divorced from reality", she had spent hours in internet chatrooms or watching television.

Her boyfriend, who kept knives and Nazi memorabilia in the house, was "sadistic - fascinated with pain", the detective said.

Owen had been living in the house after splitting from his wife and going on the run with his 15-year-old girlfriend.

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