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Former Terrington St Clement man guilty of killing of his three-month-old baby daughter

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Guilty verdicts have been returned against a couple who lived in Terrington St Clement following the death of their three-month-old baby, Eleanor.

Christopher Easey, 31, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter at Norwich Crown Court. He was also convicted of neglect.

Carly Easey, 36, was found guilty of neglect but cleared of allowing the death of Eleanor.

Norwich Crown Court (55793405)
Norwich Crown Court (55793405)

The pair will be sentenced on April 29.

Eleanor was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on December 18, 2019, after becoming unresponsive at her home in Morton-on-the-Hill, eight miles from Norwich.

She was later transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where she died on December 20.

A post-mortem examination found that Eleanor died from a severe head injury. It also revealed she was malnourished and had numerous historic fractures and a case was launched by the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Unit.

The Easeys had previously lived at Old Roman Bank in Terrington St Clement.

Chris Robson, independent chair of the NSCP (55793490)
Chris Robson, independent chair of the NSCP (55793490)

Following today's verdict a safeguarding review has been published.

A Children’s Safeguarding Practice Review (CSPR) was commissioned by the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP), following Eleanor’s death in 2019.

The publication of the review has been on hold pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Chris Robson, independent chair of the NSCP, said: “Eleanor was let down by the very people who should have loved and protected her the most. She is in our thoughts today, as her parents rightly await lengthy prison sentences for what they have done.

“It is hard to comprehend how parents can inflict such injuries and neglect on a tiny baby, but this is something those of us working across safeguarding have to consider on a daily basis, as we work with multiple families, balance risk and help parents to care for their children safely.

“On the very rare occasions when a child suffers such terrible harm, it is right that we reflect and question what happened, so that we can make sure our systems are even safer. This review has found many things that went well, as well as made recommendations about further protections that we can put in place to strengthen our practice even further. We have already acted on these and will ensure they are implemented fully.”

Mr Robson also said at press conference today: "We have a strong system of child protection in the county and child fatalities are rare. It is important that we recognise these reviews are commissioned to improve not to lay blame.

"Our aim is to learn and to protect as many children as possible, and also keep talking."

Eleanor’s parents received support from a range of agencies in her short life and she was referred into services from birth, after a concealed pregnancy.

No concerns about her well-being were raised by members of the public or her family, who were involved in her short life.

During the first two months of her life there was some evidence of good collaborative working between social care and community services, visits took place and meetings were held to assess what support the family needed.

A month after her birth, Eleanor was referred for a paediatric appointment after bruises were seen on her face. Her parents claimed this was caused by a car seat and medics agreed that the injuries were consistent with the parents’ explanation.

Subsequent six-to-eight-week health visiting assessments and immunisations visits found that Eleanor was fit and well and her weight was on track.

The case was closed by social care in November 2019 and there were no subsequent referrals to Children’s Services until Eleanor’s death in December.

Eleanor visited the GP in December for immunisations and a reaction to immunisations.

At her death she was found to have several healing fractures and a fatal head injury.

The fractures are believed to have happened in the last four weeks of Eleanor’s life.

Mr Robson added: “The rapid decline in baby Eleanor’s wellbeing in just four weeks, highlights how vulnerable babies are and how quickly circumstances can deteriorate.

We all need to be alert to this risk and, as a partnership, we have already rolled out extensive training for our staff and run campaigns to raise awareness of the support available to parents.

“Babies do not have a voice and cannot raise the alarm, so it is vitally important that we all play our part in keeping them safe, as communities, professionals, family and friends. If you see something, or hear something that doesn’t sound right, please say something.”

The SPR makes seven recommendations, which include:

* Better understanding of the impact of concealed/denied pregnancy and the impact on bonding and parenting capacity

* The need to give more junior medical practitioners time to explore safeguarding issues in relation to diagnosis/decisions directly with senior colleagues.

* Health practitioners to consider more clinical examination in babies, including weight monitoring, where there have been safeguarding concerns.

* Improved communication between social care and partners when a case is closed.

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