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The Victoria Climbié Case

Victoria Climbie
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NOTE: The twelve instances where intervention could have saved Victoria are numbered below7 January 1973One of the first infamous cases of child abuse is discovered when Maria Colwell, aged seven, is taken to hospital. She is terribly thin and has been badly beaten. Her death leads to a public inquiry that is one of the first major attempts designed to protect children from abuseOctober 1998Marie-Therese Kouao proposes to Victoria’s family to take her back to France for a better life. What this head of the family is offering her parents is a life changing opportunity. Her parents buy Victoria a new pink tracksuit for the colder weather and send her off with her favourite dollApril 1999Marie-Therese arrives in England with her ‘daughter’, ‘Anna’ONE:Spring 1999Marie-Therese visits social workers seven times with Victoria. They’re concerned that it’s not a normal mother-daughter relationship, and by Victoria’s appearanceTWO:June 1999Ester Ackah, a distant relative by marriage of Marie-Therese anonymously rings Brent Social workers warning them that she suspects abuse. She notices little blisters around Victoria’s hairline where she wore a wig but Marie-Therese explains Victoria’s had an accident with some hot water. Senior social worker Edward Armstrong later denies his team received details of a serious child protection case. He says they were told of a child not being in school. Other experts argue non school attendance can be an indicator of abuse. (And it was when Victoria was in France and started failing to attend school)THREE:14 July 1999Victoria is admitted to Central Middlesex hospital as Avril Cameron, the daughter of Victoria’s childminder, believes Victoria has been scratched and cut. Dr Ekundayo Ajaye-Obe doesn’t believe Marie-Therese’s explanation that Victoria has been scratching at scabies sores. But a consultant paediatrician, Dr Ruby Schwartz over rules him. Another doctor writes a letter saying there were no child protection issuesFOUR:15 July 1999Marie-Therese visits Ealing Social Services but they consider the case a housing issue, and close it.Marie-Therese moves Victoria in with Carl Manning. His three room flat has only a kitchen, a living room with a bed in it and a bathroom. They will make the bath Victoria’s bed.FIVE:24 July 1999Victoria is admitted to North Middlesex Hospital suffering from scalding to her head and face. Over the next two weeks of her hospital stay, Social Services never ask Victoria what happened. She’s again taken back by Marie-Therese. As they’re now living with Carl, it’s considered Haringey’s problem. PC Karen Jones doesn’t visit Marie-Therese or Carl because she fears catching scabies. Doctors now believe that Victoria is being abused but mistakenly believe that the police and social work are aware of this situation.SIX:5 August 1999Barry Almeida, a senior Haringey social worker refers Victoria’s case to the Tottenham Child and Family Centre. The Centre looks at the notes and are confused but when they try to clarify them, they’re told the family has moved and the case is closed. Mr Almeida says he doesn’t remember this subsequent conversation.SEVEN: After the hospital admission, there is no health visitor follow upEIGHT:13 August 1999Mary Rossiter, the consultant paediatrician at North Middlesex Hospital writes to Petra Kitchman, Haringey’s child protection link with the hospital saying she has ‘enormous concerns’. Ms Kitchman says she doesn’t receive the letter for the next seven days. When she does, she says she tells Victoria’s social worker. Lisa Arthurworrey denies this.NINE:16 August 1999Social worker Lisa Arthurworrey makes her first of two visits to Carl Manning flat. Her second will be just days after he starts forcing her to sleep in the bath. She doesn’t speak to Victoria or address the fact she’s not receiving an education.TEN:2 September 1999Rossiter again writes to Kitchman, but the latter is on leave. When she returns, Kitchman says she raises this with Arthurworrey. Arthurworrey denies this.28 October 1999Lisa Arthurworrey visits Carl and Marie-Therese again to say their housing application has been unsuccessful. The coached Victoria asks ‘Why can’t you find us a home. You do not respect my mummy.’ Lisa explains she can only find accommodation if Victoria is at risk.ELEVEN:1 November 1999Marie-Therese rings Haringey social services alleging that Carl’s sexually assaulted Victoria. Despite withdrawing the allegation, Haringey decide to arrange a meeting. A vital opportunity for the police and social services to investigate is missed.TWELVE:23 December 1999Ms Arthurworrey makes one of three unsuccessful visits to Carl’s flat. Thinking, without any evidence, that the pair have returned to France, she writes in her notes, they had ‘left the area’.24 February 2000Victoria is rushed to North Middlesex Hospital suffering from malnutrition and hypothermia. Her core temperature is so low, doctors can’t read it on their normal equipment.25 February 2000In the early hours, she is transferred to the intensive care unit at St Mary’s hospital, Paddington. Victoria Climbié, utterly let down by the system supposed to protect her, finally gives into the months of abuse and neglect, and is declared dead.Marie-Therese is arrested and the following day, so is Carl Manning.March 2000Lisa Arthurworrey and her manager Angella Mairs are suspended on full payNovember 2000Carl and Marie-Therese trial begins12 January 2001Nearly a year after Victoria’s death, Carl and Marie-Therese are found guilty of her murder. Both are sentenced to life imprisonment.May 2001 Lord Laming inquiry begins7 January 2002Two year old Ainlee Walker is found dead on her parent’s table. Dennis Henry and Leanne Labonte had cruelly starved and abused her until she died of her 64 injuries. Professionals had failed to visit.9 July 2002Lord Laming attacks Denise Platt, head of the Social Services Inspectorate for not submitting a vital report about the competence of Haringey Social Services. She apologises but doesn’t attend the hearing.August 2002Carole Baptiste, one of the key social workers in the case, is found guilty of failing to attend the inquiry and is fined. Lisa had attacked Carole, her boss, earlier. She says she spent her staff supervision time talking about what it meant to be a black woman and her relationship with God. Carole fails to respond to these allegations and becomes the first person ever to be prosecuted and fined for failing to give evidence at a public inquiry. When she finally does take part, she fights back against Lisa but admits she didn’t read Victoria’s file properly and asks her parents for forgiveness.12 November 2002Lisa Arthurworrey and her manager Angella Mairs are dismissed for gross misconduct following disciplinary proceedings17 July 2008Berthe Climbié , Victoria’s mother, rebukes criticism of her for letting Victoria go with Marie-Therese. She explains how the African extended family places much more trust in relatives than in the West. She remembers how Marie-Therese held up a bible and swore on it to convince them.