Summer Mai family's fight for justice reaches end of the road

Summer Mai family's fight for justice reaches end of the road

FINAL ACT: The Ratcliffe family have fought for three years to find out what happened to Summer Mai (top) FINAL ACT: The Ratcliffe family have fought for three years to find out what happened to Summer Mai

“IF YOU were to boil down all of the facts and all of the findings, you can only be left with one conclusion,” says James Ratcliffe. “Someone is walking round having gotten away with the perfect murder.”

The family of toddler Summer Mai Rogers-Ratcliffe, who was battered to death in her cot at her home in Thornhill, are having to come to terms with the fact that no-one will be prosecuted for killing her, and no-one will be held to account for failing to prevent it.

The fight to discover who killed Summer Mai Rogers-Ratcliffe in February 2012 effectively reached the end of the line this week.

Summer’s dad Joss and his parents James and Deborah, who live in Frank Lane, Thornhill, had already been told by their legal team that their pursuit of justice had hit a brick wall.

This week a report by the Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board (KSCB) was the final act in a drama that has seen two judges blame Summer’s death on her mother, Victoria Rogers.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing last July, Coroner Oliver Longstaff urged “an appropriate body” to investigate the death – but police and prosecutors have ruled out any further action.

And now, the KSCB report says no official agency could have foreseen or prevented the killing.

This week James said: “Everyone knows it. The police know it. Doctors and nurses and medical experts know it. The Crown Prosecution Service know it. Every official in any capacity who has touched this case knows it.

“And although they wouldn’t put it in the same words, as far as we’re concerned it has been the perfect murder.”

The tot was found lifeless in her cot by her maternal grandmother Susan Rogers, having suffered a blunt force head injury so violent that it detached her retinas and caused massive brain trauma.

Her mother, Vicky, had left the house a couple of hours earlier to go to work, followed later by her boyfriend Craig Sharp, when Vicky’s mum arrived to babysit.

Susan Rogers found Summer and called paramedics, but her hospital life support system was switched off that night in Leeds General Infirmary.

This week’s KSCB report made a number of recommendations for improving communication between some of the agencies involved and was critical of the response when Summer was taken by her mother to hospital with unexplained burns.

It concluded however that no-one could have foreseen the danger Summer was in or prevented her death, despite multiple concerns being raised by the Ratcliffe family – and concern being voiced about the mental state of Summer’s mother, Vicky Rogers.

 

THE Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board (KSCB) chairwoman Bron Sanders went to see the Ratcliffe family last week to explain the findings of their report.

James Ratcliffe told The Press: “I speed-read the report up to about page 14 and by then I knew what we were getting. We did not expect anything out of it, in all honesty.

“The chairwoman Bron Sanders was there and I said to her, ‘in all honesty we’ve been here for an hour and 15 minutes, and it’s crystal clear that no-one did anything wrong, no-one’s to blame’.

“She said I must be good at speed-reading to work all that out. I replied that it doesn’t take long to read bullsh*t.

“There were a couple of good points, including the need to reinstate their burns protocol (from an occasion when Vicky Rogers took Summer Mai to hospital with unexplained burns). My question is, why do they need to reinstate it? Why wasn’t it working at the time?

“The burns expert at Summer’s inquest said if it had happened in his health trust, it would have been flagged up as a safeguarding issue, and he was surprised that it hadn’t been in this case.

“If that had happened there would have been an investigation into Vicky and Craig’s past, issues could have been looked at.

“But because Summer’s burn wasn’t taken seriously that didn’t happen.

“There were so many near misses. We are never going to get justice for our grandchild.”

The Ratcliffes have previously been scathing about the initial police investigation, when vital evidence within the toddler’s cot was not examined.

They feel similarly let down by the KSCB report.

James went on: “Nowhere in the report was there mention of Summer’s dad Joss speaking to a health visitor about his concerns, and that he didn’t want it mentioning to Vicky. According to this report that never happened. Except we know it did.

“At one time the woman sniggered – it might have been a nervous laugh – but my wife Debs was furious. When she referred to my skimming the report, our other son Jake told her “we don’t need to read it, we’ve lived it.”

The family recently met with their legal team where they were told that all judicial paths had been explored, and there was nothing more to be done.

“From where we stand, that’s as far as the authorities can go. We could press for a civil case but the CPS would throw that out,” said James. “We could try a private prosecution but it would cost thousands and thousands, and most likely have the same outcome.

“We’ve been let down by the system – the health service, social services, the police, Crown Prosecution Services – everyone. Summer Mai has been let down by the people who are supposed to care for her, to protect her. They’ve let us all down.”

James said their legal advisers, who have provided their service pro bono – free – were left feeling empty.

“They’ve given so much. I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “This has been incredibly hard for them too.”

 

SENSING the end of the road had been reached, James Ratcliffe wrote a long and heartfelt ‘thank you’ on the Justice for Summer Mai Facebook page that has been at the centre of their campaign. 

He was left overwhelmed by the feedback from people wanting to see the battle continue.

“We have to try to do something to make a difference, to try to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

“We believe there needs to be a subtle change in the law, holding anyone who has responsibility for a vulnerable child to account if something happens to them.

“At the moment there has to be evidence of previous violence or neglect to charge someone in a case like this.

“We believe there was plenty of that in Summer’s case, but because none of the authorities concerned took it seriously when they had chance, that law could not be applied.

“And because of that no-one will face justice for that little girl’s death.

“I’m only a working class bloke, but it makes plain and simple sense to me.

“If you have a child in your care, you have a duty to protect and safeguard that child.

“This is a loophole that needs closing.

“We have to honour Summer Mai’s memory and do what we can to change that.”

Meanwhile Victoria Rogers is back living in Thornhill, according to the Ratcliffes.

“She’s walking about with a smile on her face, as if nothing happened,” said James.

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