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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Council failed battered infant
Metcalfe with Maureen Lockerbie and Dylan
Metcalfe with Maureen Lockerbie and Dylan
Social services have admitted to failings in their care of a baby who was killed by his father in south west Scotland.

Dumfries and Galloway Council said a mistake was made in not placing Dylan Lockerbie on the child protection register.

Ian Metcalfe was found guilty on Tuesday of the culpable homicide of Dylan, who died when he was five months old in March 1996.

Metcalfe, 34, was also convicted of assaulting and killing another son, Kyle, aged 10 weeks, in 1988.


No-one can promise to keep children safe in the face of sustained evil

Keith Makin
Child protection committee

Social services were involved with the family after Dylan's birth but did not consider him specifically "at risk", it has emerged.

Since then, a review of the case judged that a mistake was caused by weaknesses in service arrangements and an error of judgement.

However, the review did not conclude that Dylan's death would necessarily have been avoidable.

Disciplinary action

The council said "appropriate action" had been taken under its disciplinary policy but refused to reveal further details.

Procedures now were different to those in 1996, it added.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Keith Makin, chairman of the child protection committee, said: "I am confident that the way we deal with child protection and the links between agencies are much stronger and more secure now."

Kennedy McFarlane
Kennedy McFarlane was murdered in May 2000

But he added: "No-one can promise to keep children safe in the face of sustained evil."

In May 2000, after the murder of three-year-old Kennedy McFarlane in Dumfries and Galloway, the council commissioned Dr Helen Hammond to come up with an action plan for health and social services.

The Hammond Report, published in February 2001, also reviewed the procedures put in place after the death of Dylan Lockerbie and concluded they had not been carried out properly.

The deaths of Kyle and Dylan were originally put down as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or a cot death.

Expert evidence

But Metcalfe's trial heard the opinions of a number of clinicians who said they thought the babies had been physically abused.

Experts called in to examine the medical evidence found that both victims had suffered multiple rib fractures before their deaths and had been subjected to previous suffocating attacks.

Malcolm Wright, chief executive of Dumfries and Galloway Health Board, said "the climate of opinion" in the late 1980s had encouraged clinicians "to be supportive and non-judgmental about cot deaths".

Ian Metcalfe with police
The killer is led out of court

Significant research later alerted medical staff to be "more aware of other diagnoses".

Metcalfe, of Locharbriggs, Dumfries, was found guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh where he had denied murdering and attempting to murder the two infants.

He was further found guilty of assaulting, asphyxiating and endangering the life of a third child, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Sentence was deferred until 20 August for psychiatric reports.

Kyle's mother and Metcalfe's ex-wife, Michelle Johnstone, said the verdict would now allow her to come to terms with the circumstances of her son's death.

But Dylan's mother Maureen Lockerbie, who is Metcalfe's fiancée, protested that he was innocent and pledged to stand by him.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston reports
"The council says its procedures are different now"
See also:

30 Jul 02 | Scotland
29 Jul 02 | Scotland
05 Jul 02 | Scotland
01 Mar 01 | Scotland
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