Rise in child deaths caused by parents – a link to nationwide lockdown?

There has been a recent increase of cases reported where children have been killed by their parents during the nationwide lockdown measures put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In August this year, a mother and her partner were found guilty of the manslaughter of three year old Kaylee-Jayde Priest. Kaylee-Jayde was confirmed dead on 9 August 2020. Her mother and partner were sentenced to 15 and 14 years respectively following the court finding that Kaylee had been subject to a ‘ferocious’ assault causing her death.

In October the parents of six month old Robert Ion, who was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome were found guilty of his murder. His father was found guilty of causing an un-survivable brain injury whilst his mother was found guilty of covering it up. Robert died on 18 February 2021.

A police investigation discovered Robert’s mother had searched the internet for ways to cover up bruising. A forensic examination found Robert had also suffered another brain injury which had gone untreated.

At the start of November, the case of six year old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was reported, he was allegedly murdered by his father and stepmother on 17 June 2020. Arthur and his father moved in with his father’s new partner at the start of the lockdown in March 2020. The trial is ongoing however social workers were involved with this family and news reports suggest social services missed bruising on Arthur’s body which if seen could have prompted a thorough investigation.

Also currently ongoing is the murder trial of 16 month old Star Hobson who was allegedly killed by her mother and mother’s partner. Star was confirmed dead in September 2020, with her cause of death being catastrophic injuries by either stamping or kicks to her body causing internal bleeding.

Star suffered previous injuries in her short life which had been reported to social services in May 2020 by her great-grandparents and it is suggested they were not properly investigated.  

The increase in child deaths is a very sad statistic potentially contributed to by the lockdown; the Local Government Association reported that ‘serious incidents’ involving children had risen by almost a fifth over the past year (2020). Councils have asked for more help to tackle the complex issues and challenges which are contributing to these tragic incidents.

Nicola Aspinwall, Associate Solicitor, BLM

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