Baby murder case review

Richard Barnes
Richard Barnes

A SERIOUS case review has been published into the death of a Castleford baby murdered by her father.

A report by Wakefield and District Safeguarding Children’s Board (WDSCB) found agencies involved with the family had paid “insufficient consideration” to Grace Barnes’ father, Richard Barnes, who was convicted in September of killing his nine-week-old daughter by crushing or stamping on her head.

The report stated there were no indications that should have led to the involvement of specialist, protective services and no practitioners involved with the family could have predicted Grace would sustain such injuries, but found more attention could have been paid to the father.

It said: “A key finding was that agencies had paid insufficient consideration to the child’s father and had not involved him enough.

“Recommendations were made to address this. This review has shown that, progress has been made and there is a commitment to continued progress within Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust to ensure that staff consider the father, or father figure, when working with babies and young children.”

Barnes, 27, of Crowther Street, was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court after a week-long trial heard how he broke almost every bone in his daughter’s skull after drinking seven miniatures of spirits and a can of lager on November 19 last year.

Wakefield Council’s family services department was informed of Grace’s admission to hospital following concerns her injuries were not consistent with Barnes’ explanation that they had accidentally “bumped heads.”

Following Grace’s death on November 24, Barnes was charged with murder and the Serious Case Review Panel recommended a review take place.

The report said while Barnes was recorded as present at a number of appointments before and after Grace’s birth, there was no record of him attending any antenatal appointments at the GP’s practice, or being present during several visits by the Health Visiting Team.

Edwina Harrison, independent chairman of WDSCB, said: “We extend our sympathies to the family of this young child and we are grateful for their contribution to this serious case review.

“The review has concluded that, even with the benefit of hindsight, her tragic death could not have been predicted.

“We found that there were no missed opportunities to protect this young child despite the sad circumstances of her death.

“However, every serious case review provides an opportunity for learning and we are using the findings of this review to continue to improve services to children and their families in this district.”

The purpose of a serious case review is to enable agencies to establish whether there are lessons to be learnt from the case.

Sue Cannon, executive director of quality and governance (executive nurse) for NHS Wakefield District said; “Firstly, we would like to offer our condolences to the family on the tragic death of this baby.

“Although the review concluded that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent this tragedy, we are always keen to improve where we can and will be following up the report’s comments about systems for communication.”