No evidence to suggest baby whose death was staged on a bus would be harmed, case review finds
- Credit: MPS
There was no evidence to suggest that a three-month-old baby whose death was staged on a bus in Stratford “would experience serious physical harm” despite a series of warning signs, a serious case review has found.
The review was carried out by Barking and Dagenham Council after Rosalin Baker, 26, and Jeffrey Wiltshire, 53, were convicted of causing or allowing the death of their daughter Imani.
The couple, of Morris Avenue, Manor Park, were jailed for 11 years - later reduced to 10 on appeal - last year, having covered up Imani’s death at home by making it appear she had suddenly fallen ill on the number 25 bus.
The report, released today, found that Baker had “presented as a young homeless women living between extended family and friends in east London” and had been placed in accommodation in Chadwell Heath between December 2014 and March 2015, and then in Dagenham for a year from April 2015.
On June 2, 2016, Imani was born prematurely at Wiltshire’s bedsit in Manor Park, at just 28 weeks and five days.
During the 65 days she spent at Newham University Hospital’s neonatal unit, she was visited by Baker only 18 times.
Prior to Imani’s discharge, a strategy discussion was held and an initial child protection case conference was scheduled to take place in Barking and Dagenham on August 15.
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Ten days earlier, on August 5, Imani was discharged into the care of Baker, who planned to stay with her sister in Tower Hamlets. At the time, the baby was reported to be thriving, but there was very little written documentation about her daily routine, and her height was not recorded at all.
At the conference, Baker stated she would not comply with a child protection plan, and refused to say who Imani’s father was or where she lived.
On August 19, Baker’s mum and sister accompanied her to Barking and Dagenham children’s services where they said that Baker wished to move to live with her mum.
Baker and Imani moved to Colchester three days later, and Essex Children’s Services were asked to add Imani’s name to their list of children subject to a child protection plan.
But on August 26, the Friday before the bank holiday weekend, Baker rang her social worker to say that her mum had “kicked her out”. Baker’s mum told the social worker she could not look after them indefinitely and that they needed the council to find accommodation.
Between September 12 and 15, Baker returned to London with Imani, and shortly after a social worker visited on September 19, again took the little girl to London. She remained in London until September 28, when Imani was pronounced dead.
The serious case review found that a Barking and Dagenham social worker assigned to the family following Imani’s birth was concerned that Baker was living in different addresses at different boroughs, that she provided two different surnames for Wiltshire and that the visits to Imani in hospital were infrequent.
It was clarified during a subsequent conversation that Baker no longer lived in Barking and Dagenham, but it was still not known where they were living. As a result, it was agreed that the council should continue to work with the family.
The review found that “the mother engaged almost entirely on her own terms or when professionals informed her that the concern had increased to such a level that further intervention was deemed necessary”.
It added: “This demonstrated that the mother did not lack an understanding of what was required but showed a very significant will not to work with professionals.
“Among many lessons this case highlights the difficulties that professionals experience when working with non-compliant, chaotic, mobile and duplicitous families.
“This family lived at six different addresses (these were the addresses that the professionals knew about), and in four local authority areas, three of which were in London.”
The report issued nine recommendations as a result of the review’s findings, including that safeguarding children’s boards include the identification of disguised compliance in their training programmes, and that an appropriate way of ensuring information is exchanged between housing and children’s services when a tenancy is cancelled.