Boyfriend ROBERT CUNNINGHAM has been jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of culpable homicide in the death of his girlfriend's 23-month-old son. But that was a boyfriend you say? Not the father? In Cunningham's case, it doesn't make any difference whether his sperm created the child or not. Cunningham's child by a previous girlfriend had been on the "at-risk" register amid reports of abuse by Cunningham. Violent people are violent. They don't stop to do DNA tests before they decide to assault or kill someone.
In this case, social workers had been involved with this family from nearly the beginning, but they didn't do much of anything to actually help this mother or protect this child.
From The Times
August 20, 2009
Demand for public inquiry into death of Brandon Muir
Child protection workers in Dundee took three weeks to hold an “urgent case conference” into the case of Brandon Muir, the toddler killed by his mother’s drug addict partner, a report on the events surrounding the tragedy said yesterday. By that time, the 23 month-old child was dead.
Last night, a public inquiry into Scotland’s child protection system was demanded as it emerged that the three week delay was not considered unusual. An independent review of the case also found that information about Brandon’s complex family background was not always shared among professionals tasked with protecting him.
Following the release of the report, the Scottish government announced it was appointing a national child protection co-ordinator to drive up protection for vulnerable children. It is also in the midst of a review of the guidelines for professionals working with such children.
Robert Cunningham — who had a history of alleged domestic abuse — was jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of culpable homicide for delivering a brutal blow to Brandon’s stomach which ruptured his intestine. The case against Heather Boyd, Brandon’s mother, was dropped. Following the trial, earlier this year, two parallel reports were announced — a significant case review by social work consultant Jimmy Hawthorn and an independent investigation by Professor Peter Wilson, a former chief constable of Fife Constabulary.
Released yesterday, they reveal disturbing details of the conditions Brandon was forced to live in during the days before his death. Social workers who visited the family home told how he clung to them and, when they left, fetched his coat and made to join them. However, Mr Hawthorn and Mr Wilson said there was “little opportunity” to prevent Cunningham’s fatal attack, and it could not have been predicted. And they said that, in the three weeks that Cunningham and Ms Boyd had been living together, “child protection staff had quickly embarked upon a process of assessment and information gathering which would have led to a case conference on March 18, 2008”.
Professor Wilson, the former chief constable of Fife, told The Times that the case was “very different to Baby P”. Brandon had never been placed on the at-risk register, despite concerns about his mother’s abilities as a parent. However, Cunningham’s child by a previous girlfriend had been on the register before its birth, amid reports of abuse by Cunningham.
Campaigners who said they spoke for Brandon’s aunt, Dayna Garty, and father, John Muir, criticised the failure to remove the toddler from his mother and called for the resignation of Alan Baird, the head of Dundee City Council’s Social Work Department.
Mr Baird said he would not be handing in his notice and, instead, would be working with the partner agencies to implement the recommendations of the report. Professor Wilson said he had not recommended any sackings.
Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said the fact that the toddler’s case did “not stand out as giving cause for concern” was a “damning indictment of the system”.
“It is obvious the threshold before agencies consider more serious intervention is far too high,” he said.
The Scottish government said an inquiry had already taken place under the previous administration and a review of the national guidelines was ongoing.
The reviews identified failings in the system at local and national level. Other failings were identified by an HM Inspectorate review of the Dundee service, released earlier this year. Police, council and health board said they had since changed procedures.