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2001: Climbie carers guilty of murder

VIDEO : Report on the Climbie case

The carers of an eight-year-old girl who died after being tortured and fed scraps of food like a dog have been found guilty of her murder.

The Home Office pathologist who examined her body declared it was the worst case of child abuse he had ever encountered.

The girl's aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, and her boyfriend Carl Manning were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Judge Richard Hawkins described their treatment of Anna Climbie as "truly unimaginable".

Manning denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and child cruelty. Kouao claimed that the girl's death was due to witchcraft and denied all charges.

"We should have acted to protect this child"

Anne Bristow, Director of Social Services

Anna's parents entrusted their daughter to her aunt in 1998. They sent her away from her home in the Ivory Coast in the hope she would have a better life in Europe.

The Judge told the court that Anna had left for France a "lovely child, full of hope and love", but had become an "inconvenience" to Kouao and her boyfriend.

The murder investigation and trial revealed a series of failings by the police, two hospitals and three local authorities to protect Anna.

The Director of Social Services for Haringey Council, Anne Bristow acknowledged that the first warnings of abuse were evident eight months before Anna's death.

"We should have acted to protect this child and accept responsibility for our failure," she said.

The Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, has ordered a statutory inquiry. The case has also been referred to the Police Complaints Authority.

In Context
It later emerged that Anna's real name was Victoria - Anna was the name of another girl whose parents had changed their mind about sending her away with Kouao.

Kouao had already obtained travel documents for "Anna" which she did not have changed when she ended up taking Victoria instead.

Lord Laming was appointed chair of the inquiry into Victoria's death, which first met on 31 May 2001.

The inquiry was told how Brent Social Services maintained a potentially unsafe level of care, and that Haringey Council diverted millions of pounds away from child protection.

Individual social workers also admitted mistakes - two were later sacked after disciplinary proceedings.

The conclusions were published in January 2003. One of the main proposals was the creation of a new post of children's commissioner for England.

Police, health and social services were also given a three month deadline to improve basic practice.

A social worker sacked for her role in the Victoria Climbie case lost her appeal against dismissal in October 2004.

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