‘Violent’ Blackpool dad ‘drugged toddlers to make them sleep’

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A ‘violent’, Blackpool dad was accused of injecting two toddlers with heroin to ‘help make them sleep’ in a case of shocking child abuse.

 

One-year-old ‘Chloe’ and two-year-old ‘Harper’ tested positive for opiates following a medical examination, after social workers were tipped off by one of the man’s older children in November 2019.

The toddlers, plus two other youngsters, nine-year-old ‘Lucas’ and 16-year-old’ ‘Ava’, had been under a child protection plan with the Children’s Safeguarding Assurance Partnership since October 2018.

All four children were found to have suffered ‘chronic neglect’ from both of their parents, underpinned by domestic abuse, parental mental health problems, substance and alcohol use, and violence.

The family was known to social services since 2006

The family was known to social services since 2006

A child safeguarding practice review, published two years after the allegations in November 2019, foundevidence of opium in both Chloe and Harper, though there was ‘no evidence of an injection site at the safeguarding examinations’.

However, when one of the children attended nursery three days later a potential injection bruise to the thigh was seen.

As a result, all four children were removed from the care of their mother, 34, and father, 37.

The report added that the family had been known to Blackpool social service since 2006.

Independent safeguarding advisor Amanda Clarke said: “Issues within the family included neglect, domestic abuse, parental mental health and substance abuse. The children spent periods in the care of their maternal grandmother, although she was known to have her own mental health and substance misuse problems.

“During Mother’s pregnancy with Chloe there were concerns about Mother’s drug use… The baby was born with neo-natal abstinence syndrome and there were concerns about Mother’s ability to care for the baby.”

An initial child protection conference failed to consider ‘the whole spectrum of neglect’, and the new baby was put on a child protection plan, and her three older siblings on child in need plans.

Ms Clarke said: “Despite evidence of the parents’ ongoing substance use, a decision was made to end the child protection plan 10 weeks later.”

In September 2018, a violent domestic incident was reported, in which both the mother and father sustained serious injuries, and were noted by attending police officers to be under the influence. Weapons were also recovered from the home address.

Just a few days later, further concerns were raised when the father attended Lucas’ school ‘significantly under the influence’.

“Within days Father made a serious suicide attempt at home and after this incident the children again went to stay with maternal grandmother,” Ms Clarke said. “Ava subsequently disclosed that she was aware of her stepdad’s suicide attempt and had witnessed Mother overdosing as a result. Ava said she had been unable to sleep due to fearing that she would ‘wake up to find both parents dead and have to care for her siblings’.”

Criticisms were aimed at social services after it emerged that both Ava and Lucas had made concerning remarks about their home life, with Ava saying she would ‘rather go into care than go home’, and Lucas saying he ‘felt scared’ in the house.

Responsibilities for childcare often fell onto the two older children, and Lucas was noted to be often tired at school.

Meanwhile, Chloe and Harper showed ‘signs of trauma’. Both toddlers screamed loudly for long periods of time, stole and hid food and ‘gorged’ as if frightened it would be taken away. Chloe had ‘an additional extreme fear of water and bath times in particular’.

Ms Clarke said: “The lifestyle of Mother and Father in this case was described as ‘mostly chaotic’ and affected by their own personal needs. This overshadowed the needs of the children and professional responses to concerns within the family often became focussed on issues relating to the adults, such as their substance misuse and mental health.

“At the practitioners’ meeting there was a suggestion that some professionals may have held the view ‘if the parents could be helped this would in turn help the children’. However, positive outcomes for the children were mostly not evident even after extensive efforts at supporting Mother and Father.”