Saturday, 30 January 2010

Yeah, But No, But Yeah….

...we’d rather persecute the slightly dim, right?
A mother killed her four-year-old son as a religious sacrifice just days after being freed from a hospital and allowed to look after him.
Whoops!
She smothered him to death with a pillow four days after being released from a mental hospital and hours after warning her family that she wanted to kill them all.

She then stabbed her own mother five times as she tried to resuscitate the boy, an inquest heard today.
Another sterling success from the mental health authorities, I see…
Ryan Manser was on the child protection register and has been supervised by social workers since he was born.

A Serious Case Review carried out after Ryan was killed in April 2007 made 20 recommendations and the boy’s family have complained that more could have been done to protect him.
They are almost certainly right.

And for once, the authorities don’t share all the blame…
Mother-of-four Mrs Richards, aged 56, sobbed as she told the inquest Emma had threatened to kill all the family but she had not taken it seriously.
I expect you’ve changed your mind now, though?
'I don’t know why it happened. She had slept like that with Ryan quite a few times and nothing untoward had happened. I didn’t think she was a risk to Ryan. I didn’t think she would hurt him.'
I suppose one shouldn’t be too hard on her, after all, they were mental health professionals and she was family, but, good lord…
'I think they let her out too early. I told the social workers she should not be out so early. She still came out with lots of stupid things and I could tell she was not right. You could tell it from her eyes.

'It was hard because it was left to me whether to let her see Ryan or not. I could not turn her away because she was his mum.

'She had threatened to harm him, but she threatened to kill all of us. It was something she would say.'
Well, no. It clearly wasn’t ‘just something she would say’, was it?

And turning her away, even though she was ‘his mum’, was exactly what you should have done…

And can anyone tell me how it is that poor Kerry Robertson gets chased all the way across the Irish Sea because she could probably only double David Lammy’s score at ‘Mastermind’ at the most, yet right under the very noses of the SS, the winner of the Most Naive Person in Honiton competition for the last 15 years running is letting her drug addicted just-out-of-the-booby-hatch daughter play house with her child within reach of a kitchen full of Sabatier’s finest?

The inquest continues, so there’s still time for our perennial favourite, ‘Lessons must be learned’, to make an appearance…

Update: And just this morning, here it is:
In a narrative verdict, coroner Darren Salter said lessons could be learned and procedures should be reviewed.

10 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

I think you are being way too harsh on Mrs Richards, she appears to have made a mistake, that's all, and suffered enough for it.

John R said...

With all the lessons learnt by the SS around the UK you'd think they'd be the smartest people on the planet by now, wouldnt you?

Well they're not. So maybe we should just fire the lot of them and fund/engage local charities to do the work.

Real people not certificated, "right on", process-zombies so the needy might actually get some benefit from the help they're given.
No central control, admin, reporting or box ticking from the vile politicians in Westminster so it would be hugely more cost effective (and they could sack a load of central gummint parasites as well)

We can't go on like this!

woman on a raft said...

Agree with Mark.

In this case a real person, with the highest stakes possible in getting it right, was left as back-stop. She got it wrong when the situation went dramatically out of bounds.

The only thing left to argue about is whether this was in fact predictable but the signs were missed, or if it was unpredictable. Mrs Richards underestimated the significance of what her daughter was saying, but that is with the benefit of hindsight, which has 20/20 vision.

Up and down the country there are parents caring for not very-well grown children. Most of the dependent children, despite saying ludicrous things, will do no more than some self-harm. A few will commit suicide. Killings do happen, but we have to respond rationally to the size of that risk.

It is particularly tricky when dealing with mental illness because if people believe they will be punished for having breakdowns by having their children removed, they will not seek medical help in the first place. Over big numbers this will (and has) increased the risk of deaths to children.

After all, suppose Granny Richards was haunted by the idea that if she complained to the mental health and social services too much, they would remove Ryan altogether? It's no good saying that doesn't happen - the case you've chosen to pair it with raises exactly this issue.

dickiebo said...

Come on, folks. Get real!
The SS (Social Services, I think!) drag children away from parents for no reason at all, but where there is an overwhelmingly obvious case of an unfit parent - zilch! Surely this case should have been one of the easier ones for SS to deal with!

ranter said...

'Lessons to be learnt'...as always...again and again and again and again and again and again and again.......................

How meaningless is that phrase today?

Ross said...

"A mother killed her four-year-old son as a religious sacrifice just days after being freed from a hospital and allowed to look after him. "

I'm shocked that you appear to be advocating discriminating against someone simply because of their religious beliefs!

We should celebrate diversity and respect all faiths equally.

Angry Exile said...

'Lessons must be learned' or similar phrases - how about a Lessons Drinking Game? Take a shot of your favourite tipple or skull half a beer every time you hear it mentioned. Last one left standing gets to run the country for five years.

dr cromarty said...

lessons could be learned

You don't say?

JuliaM said...

"I think you are being way too harsh on Mrs Richards, she appears to have made a mistake, that's all, and suffered enough for it."

If she'd been one of the relatives in cases where they have warned and begged and pleaded with the authorities, I'd have been right there with her.

Yet she seems to have passively accepted that 'the authorities know best', and that, frankly, infuriates me.

I know it's hard, when it's someone you love, to believe them capable of that. But the person you loved is gone, maybe never coming back.

"With all the lessons learnt by the SS around the UK you'd think they'd be the smartest people on the planet by now, wouldnt you?"

Indeed. Well, they say 'learning is lifelong', after all.

"After all, suppose Granny Richards was haunted by the idea that if she complained to the mental health and social services too much, they would remove Ryan altogether?"

At least he'd be alive.

"Surely this case should have been one of the easier ones for SS to deal with!"

They seem to screw up the easier ones, and take action in the harder-to-prove ones!

JuliaM said...

"I'm shocked that you appear to be advocating discriminating against someone simply because of their religious beliefs!"

Heh!

You know, I wonder..?

"...how about a Lessons Drinking Game? Take a shot of your favourite tipple or skull half a beer every time you hear it mentioned. Last one left standing gets to run the country for five years."

I think that might produce a far better result that the one we're bound to get in May!