Neath and Port Talbot Watchdog (NPTW)

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'Child Deaths'
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Chloe Thomas aged 14 weeks

Bridgend Social Services
Officials told of cruelty just weeks before her death

Police 'may review' baby's death
BBC Online News
8 July 2006

Police could review the case of a baby who died with 40 broken bones after an inquest in Cardiff ruled she had been unlawfully killed.
Chloe Thomas was 14 weeks old when she died in 2003 with 40 broken bones.

A coroner returned an unlawful killing verdict on Friday. Chloe's parents, from Bridgend, had both previously been convicted of cruelty.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: "The police may review the case in the light of the findings."
He added: "Following any review, should they ask the CPS to reconsider the evidence then the case will be subject to such reconsideration."

A South Wales Police spokesman said it would be considering the findings and discussing them with the CPS.

Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell said she would also send a report of her findings to childcare agencies, a health trust and the Welsh assembly government, adding: "Chloe suffered a continuous and sustained pattern of abuse."

Chloe had been placed on an "at risk" register by health workers in the weeks before her death.

Health adviser Anne Powell said there had been "concerns" about the baby, who appeared distressed.

A child protection conference was held before Chloe's death in which a "great deal of concern" was displayed by health professionals.

She died after collapsing at her home in Pencoed, Bridgend, in April 2003 with 40 fractures to her skull, wrist, rib, leg and fingers.

In January Chloe's father, Ceri Thomas, 23, from Bridgend, was cleared of murder but he was jailed for three months after admitting child cruelty.

The child's mother, Sarah Scott, 19, from Cardiff, was given a three-year community rehabilitation order after admitting the same charge.

At the inquest into Chloe's death, Cardiff Crown Court heard that Thomas and Scott gave the child tea instead of milk, tried to "walk" her aged eight weeks and resisted the involvement of social services.

Ms Hassell said: "There is no doubt in my mind that Chloe suffered a continuous and sustained pattern of abuse in her short life that resulted in her death.

"She died of a brain haemorrhage and suffered more than 40 fractures.

"Chloe was well known to social services but there was a six-week delay in getting her a new social worker although she was on her the at risk register."

'Robust safeguards'

Following the inquest, Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust said the case had a "profound effect" on healthcare staff involved.

A spokesperson said: "The trust accepts there were some things that could have been done differently.

"However, potential danger to the baby was identified by health professionals at an early stage and referral made to the appropriate agencies and a child protection conference convened.

"Unfortunately, this did not prevent the neglect and death of the baby and that is to be deeply regretted by all concerned."

The trust added it was "developing robust safeguards" to try to prevent any similar death.

Bridgend Council's executive director for community, Tony Garthwaite, said: "Now that the inquest is over, we shall be giving careful consideration to the coroner's verdict and also examining any other relevant information which emerged during the inquest."

But Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies said warning signals needed to be acted on more quickly by the authorities.

"Many people who followed this case will be amazed that in this situation the high-risk situation for Chloe had been identified yet action was not taken," he said.

"That's the huge tragedy of this. It wasn't like other cases where the incidents of abuse were not picked up on.

"They were identified by a multi-agency group of people but a time lag somehow crept in.

"I'm glad the coroner's report has highlighted these deficiencies."