It was by chance that I has been assigned to report on the Liam Fee murder trial. The courtroom case had been put back a week as well as the reporter initially expected to cover it had been on holiday. I had no idea how much of the impact it would have on our journalistic life since then.
For seven weeks in springtime last year, I sat at Livingston High Court listening to the most unthinkable horror as the evidence unfolded concerning the cruelty of Liam’s mother Rachel and her partner Nyomi Charge.
Rightly they are helping life sentences for Liam’s killing; they are responsible for the toddler’s dying.
But like almost everyone else, the particular outstanding question that I couldn’t tremble was could more have been accomplished to protect Liam?
Plus Liam wasn’t the only child in order to die with some level of social function involvement in 2014. In fact 3 children died in the first 4 months of that year. A chance or a sign of a wider issue in Fife’s child protection program?
In The month of january 2014, three-year-old Mikaeel Kular had been killed by his mother. Rosdeep Adekoya had initially reported your pet missing. She was convicted associated with culpable homicide.
- ‘Fife’s Kid Killings: The Untold Story’ can be obtained for 30 days on the BBC iPlayer.
- Liam Fee social worker makes ‘scapegoat’ claim
- The vulnerable toddler who ‘fell off the radar’
- The shocking abuse associated with toddler Liam Fee
- Call for investigation more than BBC child murder revelations
Liam Fee died in Thornton near Glenrothes in March 2014 and just a month later, only ten miles away, a little girl known as Madison Horn was the victim of the horrific attack. The two-year-old has been killed by her mother’s brand new boyfriend, Kevin Park.
In each case Fife’s Kid Protection Committee commissioned an investigation, termed as a Significant Case Review.
Chinese is interesting. They say the fatalities could not have been “predicted” or “anticipated”.
That is correct, but our investigation suggests there is certainly much missing in these official variations of events.
That it is taken time to put the pieces jointly but key has been talking to the particular children’s families, or those carefully involved in their care. Many who have agreed to talk publicly the first time.
In Madison’s situation her grandparents and her mom are left in despair that this Significant Case Review says nor she nor her mum had been known to social services but won’t mention that her murderer has been.
Kevin Park’s social employee was later to face disciplinary actions and was found to have place Madison and her mother “at risk” by failing to alert her about her new boyfriend’s violent past.
Mikaeel’s grandfather told me his family continue to be not happy with the answers they have been provided about social work involvement within the child’s life.
Dr Bangarpet Krishnaswamy says your family felt excluded from decisions regarding their grandchildren’s care, despite getting in touch with social work about concerns that they had.
But probably the most compelling has been hearing through Heather Farmer, Liam Fee’s childminder. She agreed to share her experience of us because she wishes “someone had helped him”.
She tried to. Time and time again the girl tried to raise the alarm, spotting the particular “manipulative” and “devious” behaviour associated with Rachel and Nyomi as they protected up their abuse with is situated.
Long before Liam died, Heather Character had witnessed the behaviour how the Significant Case Review points in order to professionals missing over and over again.
One social worker has accepted she made mistakes. That is Lesley Bate, who was struck off a year ago for putting vulnerable children, which includes Liam, at risk.
She actually is, as far as we can tell, the only individual to have been disciplined for Liam’s case. Yet, as she informed me, she stopped working on it within April 2013, almost a year just before he died.
Indeed, she says, she should have completed more, but who else did not pick up his case?
Is it as simple as throwing blame on one frontline member of staff exactly who claims she was struggling within a dysfunctional department?
It has been irritating that nobody involved in Child Security in Fife would agree to perform an on-camera interview to straight address the questions we have regarding each of these cases.
They say things have improved, that will child protection is a priority and they have learned from these tragic deaths.
But is that good enough for your people who loved and cherished these types of children? Or the people who tried to assist them?
These are still grieving, still feeling sense of guilt, wondering ‘what if’? Have that they had the open, honest and clear answers they deserve?