Baby murder highlighted support failings

FAILINGS in the support provided to tragic Luigi Askew were identified in an independent report into the circumstances leading up to the baby's murder.

FAILINGS in the support provided to tragic Luigi Askew were identified in an independent report into the circumstances leading up to the baby's murder.

In all, 33 recommendations were made to a host of agencies after a serious case review, carried out by the Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board in a bid to prevent any other children from suffering the same fate.

Duncan Mills, of London Road, murdered Luigi, his one-month-old son, on May 26 last year, also battering the baby's mother Samantha Askew on the same day.

Technical failings meant that information was not readily available that would have highlighted Mills' violent past to social workers and other health agencies who already suspected Miss Askew as being a victim of domestic violence.

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Two other separate police incidents were not logged as being of a domestic nature.

Mills, 32, was convicted in 2002 for causing grievous bodily harm to a previous partner, the mother of his oldest child.

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The report described this omission as being of “over-riding concern”, adding: “Had his (Mills') history been known, the profile of this family would have been higher to all safeguarding agencies and the response of the health agencies would probably have been more focused.”

Cliff James, head of safeguarding at Suffolk County Council, admitted: “There was a failure to maintain a record which could have been searched to identify Duncan Mills. We acknowledge that was a significant issue.

“We have taken steps to address that and ensure the information can be accessed and recorded.”

It emerged that Miss Askew had attended Ipswich Hospital on a number of occasions with minor injuries, prompting fears she was the victim of domestic abuse - which she consistently denied.

The report found that a social worker and a health visitor had made a joint visit to see Luigi the day before he died.

The board's independent chairman, Peter Worobec, said lessons had been learned.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” he said. “In the main, staff did what was expected of them and Luigi Askew's death was not something which was likely to have been foreseen or prevented.”

The board acknowledged the difficulty Miss Askew had in reporting the domestic violence she suffered.

Mr Worobec said: “Hopefully the tragic consequences of this case may actually motivate women to seek help.

“It's important to break down the barriers in reporting domestic abuse.”

Detective superintendent Tim Beach said one of the most significant measures to come out of the review would be the introduction of domestic violence courts in Suffolk in July.

Currently such courts only operate in Ipswich.

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