Baby Ethan Hopson death tragedy ‘could not have been predicted’ - report
A REPORT published yesterday has made recommendations – including more education on internet safety – following the death of baby Ethan George Hopson. Here is an in-depth examination of the document...
PRIOR to moving to Grimsby, Jason Redgrave had been living in Lincolnshire, serving in the Army between 2009 and 2010.
He was married at the time and the couple had a child, but his service was terminated in June 2010 after he spent a period of time absent without leave, and was consequently deemed as unsuitable for the Army.
From April 2011, he gained employment with a voluntary sector provider of services to adults with learning disabilities.
His role was to support adults in their own homes.
In June 2011, a female service user made an allegation of sexual assault against Redgrave and he was immediately suspended.
In August, he separated from his wife and moved to Grimsby.
In November, he was dismissed from his job, and was eventually cleared of two charges of sexual activity with a woman who had a mental disorder by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court – six months after being jailed for baby Ethan’s manslaughter.
Ethan’s mum, Karly, met Redgrave through Facebook some time in October 2011; Ethan had been born on June 17, and Karly was living alone with her baby in Cleethorpes.
On December 17, Redgrave was babysitting Ethan and rang Karly to say the child wasn’t breathing.
She told him to call 999, which he did, and Ethan was taken to hospital with a non-accidental head injury and cardiac arrest. Humberside Police launched an immediate investigation and in the early hours of the next morning, Redgrave was arrested.
On December 22, Ethan died after life support was withdrawn. Following a trial, Redgrave was convicted of manslaughter, on June 27 last year.
The report into the incident was released yesterday on behalf of the North East Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board, summarising the findings of a serious case review conducted by independent social workers during 2012.
It refers to Ethan as Child A, Redgrave as MP and Karly as MA.
“None of the agencies within North East Lincolnshire were aware of MP’s (Redgrave) relationship with MA (Karly) prior to December 17,” the report reads. “It is for a child’s parent to make decisions regarding who should care for their child.
“MP (Redgrave) became known to a limited number of services in Lincolnshire arising out of the allegation of sexual assault.
“The service had undertaken full reference and criminal records checks before employing him and nothing of concern had been discovered.
“The only process which was not followed correctly at the time was that the voluntary sector provider omitted to tell the Independent Safeguarding Authority, the body which makes decisions about barring people from working with children or vulnerable adults.
“The voluntary sector provider accepted this was a mistake and took remedial action. However, even had this referral been undertaken at the correct time, it would not have impacted in any way on the outcome for Child A (Ethan), as MP (Redgrave) was in a personal relationship with his mother, not an employment relationship.
“The review is satisfied there was no further action that could, or should, have been taken.
“While the allegations of sexual assault inevitably raise questions for his capacity for harm, this alone could not lead to a presumption that MP (Redgrave) was at a great risk of physical harm to a child.
“Child A’s (Ethan) death can be better understood as an unanticipated crime rather than as an unidentified safeguarding failure.”
The report revealed that in November 2010, Karly, then pregnant with Ethan, told her GP that she had been hit by her partner at the time.
This information was not passed on to any other agencies, and shortly afterwards, Karly said she was single.
The document reads: “It is not clear if appropriate support or advice was given, potentially representing a missed opportunity to support her and safeguard her unborn child.
“However, given that she shortly afterwards was no longer in the relationship and there were no further known occurrences, it is quite clear that even had the midwife been given this information she would not have had reason to intervene.
“This issue had no ultimate effect on the events that led to the child’s death.
“Nevertheless, this has been identified as something for future learning.”
It continued: “He was a child who, at no point, gave cause for concern to the agencies.
“There was neither at the time, nor with hindsight, any information to suggest any concerns about his wellbeing prior to the catastrophic injury that resulted in his death.
“Practice by the professionals concerned was largely of a good standard, in line with standards and expectations.
“Medical care provided to Child A (Ethan) following his injury was of a high standard and the police response to concerns raised by the hospital was swift and appropriate.
“Finally, the review has reflected on whether the adults’ use of social networking sites played any significant role in these events, given an emerging recognition nationally of the particular risks this form of communication can pose.
“There is no information available that MA (Karly) or Child A (Ethan) were targeted deliberately by MP (Redgrave) via social networking.
“The use of social networking sites as a means to meet a partner may carry different risks than other means. The degree to which a parent is alert to the potential risks of introducing another adult into their household is not something which agencies can control.
“This review has concluded that there is potential for some limited educative work with parents. However, it is important that the likely impact of this should not be overstated.”
The report concluded that the events leading to Ethan’s death “could not have been predicted either at the time, or with the benefit of hindsight”.
“Direct lessons for the agencies are therefore limited,” it stated.
THE death of a child in any circumstance is tragic and will leave an indelible mark on all those involved.
Such a tragedy however, is put onto a different level when that death results from the actions of another individual.
The legal system will determine what action is taken against those responsible.
But what of the families, left to cope with the burden of heartache that such incidents bring.
If there is any positive to come out of such a situation it is to try and ensure that the risks of this ever happening again are as low as possible.
For this to happen, it is vital that properly conducted inquiries are carried out with actions examined and, if necessary, different procedures put into place.
This offers no guarantees, but can try to ensure any that lessons, if there are any, are learnt. We saw this a considerable time ago in Grimsby with the terrible Phillip Martin case in 1997 and more recently with the dreadful situation surrounding Ian Huntley.
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