Probe finds little Jasmine's death at hands of mentally ill mother was preventable

Issue 504

THE KILLING of a twoyearold Dewsbury tot by her schizophrenic mum could have been prevented, an official review has found.
Jasmine Bellfield was smothered by mum Sonia, 31, at their Naylor Court home in February 2010 despite being known to Social Services.
Kirklees Council’s safeguarding children board began a probe in July to see if more could have been done to prevent the tragedy.
They concluded the case was not referred to other agencies quickly enough, meaning Sonia Bellfield’s problems were not understood in time.
Some 26 recommendations for improving the way Social Services and health bodies in Kirklees handle such cases are made in their report.
A plan has now been drawn up by the safeguarding board to make sure their recommendations are carried out.
Board chairman Bron Sanders said: “We agree the case’s outcome was not the result of any systemic failures.
“At the same time, we acknowledge that more could, and should, have been done to prevent the case from reaching crisis point.”
Sonia Bellfield denied murder last year at Leeds Crown Court but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
She was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act for smothering daughter Jasmine to death and then trying to commit suicide.
The court heard visits were made by health professionals two days before the killing over concern’s about Sonia Bellfield’s mental state.
It was not considered enough of an emergency to take Jasmine into care. An attempted check the following night prompted Sonia Bellfield to kill her.
She thought the FBI were coming to take Jasmine away and heard voices in her head telling her to ‘save’ Jasmine from them.
Sonia Bellfield was found covered in blood downstairs when police arrived with a mental health crisis team next morning. Jasmine’s body was upstairs.
She had been put on a child protection register in October 2007 but taken off within a year as social workers thought she was being well cared for.
Sonia Bellfield had been known to the authorities since 2000, though she did not suffer a ‘significant psychotic episode’ over the next eight years.
Social services closed their files on Sonia Bellfield, with action from December 2009 to February 2010 arguably coming too late.
It is thought she had been off her antipsychotic pills during this time, a factor in how her condition worsened in the days before her daughter’s death.   
Ms Sanders said working practices had been changed and training updated for conducting home visits in emergency situations.
She added: “Many different agencies were involved in this case. Our shared commitment to safeguarding children has never been stronger.”

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