Most people will have forgotten the name Ndingeko Kunene; he was only five months old when
he died of rickets in Erith in 2012. Bad parenting of course but where was
Bexley Council? Nowhere. It didn’t take its responsibilities seriously.
The Serious Case Review is no longer on Bexley’s website but a summary of its findings is on a Bonkers’ blog. There was “no senior management oversight” and “the ethnicity, diversity and possibly professional status of the family distracted professionals from challenging them. Supporting the equality and diversity rights of the family appeared to take precedence over the voice of the child”.
Political correctness contributed to the loss of a young life. Bexley Council had apparently learned nothing from an even worse case a couple of years earlier.
Rhys Lawrie died just before his fourth birthday after a life of misery. His mother had been sectioned before moving to Bexley and had reported herself to doctors in Erith because of the admitted violent behaviour directed at the child. He was constantly in and out of Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Naturally the situation was reported to Bexley Council but they did nothing. Nothing at all.
When taken out Rhys would have make up applied to hide his bruises. Within two days of his mother blaming an older brother for fracturing his skull she was leaving Rhys alone in his care again.
To cut a long story short the teachers at his nursery school eventually reported extensive bruising to Bexley Council, it’s all on the record, but again they failed to react.
A month later Rhys was dead. Dead with 39 separate injuries according to the autopsy, and how did he get them? From an accident. He fell off the sofa.
Would the police swallow that story? Yes every bit of it and his mother was allowed to go back home on the night of Rhys's death to scrub blood from her walls.
Was there a cover up? Almost certainly. This tragedy took place immediately after the infamous Baby P case in Haringey and it was not dissimilar.
Rhys’s grandfather, Trevor Lawrie, smelled a rat and campaigned for justice as a result of which the police were persuaded some nine months after the death that falling off a sofa was not likely to inflict 39 injuries or splash blood on the walls. Charging the mother with murder would make life awkward, to say the least, for Bexley Council who had ignored medical reports and did nothing about the school teachers’ concerns because it was the Christmas party season and they were too busy with that.
A decision was taken to charge the mother's ‘boyfriend’, a 16 year old with learning difficulties.
The mother's alibi was that she was not in the house at the critical time. She said she was collecting her elder son from school, however she made a 999 call from her home only seven minutes after the school bell rang and the bus journey alone takes 15 minutes. The paramedics reported that the 16 year old was not in the house when they arrived but they were not called as witnesses and the mother’s alibi was accepted. Trevor Lawrie is convinced that the death of his grandson provoked a classic Bexley Council cover-up and getting Bexley’s former Head of Children’s Services to write the Serious Case Review did nothing to persuade him otherwise.
No Bexley Council manager lost their job, the story being that the boss was on particularly good terms with the Council’s leadership.
For those interested there is an Index to the old Rhys Lawrie blogs.
You don’t have to be a toddler to die following Bexley Council neglect, Barbara Baker was an old lady living in sheltered housing who paid for Bexley Council’s emergency call out service.
Bexley Council was not willing to spend money on it and stupidly cut the overnight staffing level to one. No one in their right mind does that. Even more stupidly they employed a known drunkard to handle the incoming calls. Other staff reported his alcohol problem - I have visited two of them in their homes - but Bexley Council ignored them.
The old lady had pressed her emergency button but no one answered. She died alone. When an employee produced the automated call logs which showed what must have happened Bexley Council sacked him. The other employee who witnessed the extent of the subsequent cover-up was made to leave and paid a tidy sum to keep quiet. Again no manager was sacked although none are at Bexley any more.
Once again there is a blog Index.
Is Bexley Council still a contributory factor to premature death? Some people think so.
I shall try to make contact with Daphne Palmer’s grandson to see if his accusations stack up.
How many more such cases has Bexley buried?