Copied from http://www.openur.co.uk 01/07/2011
Kent county council allowed a single man in his 50s to privately foster a 14-year-old girl without carrying out the checks that would have revealed him to be a dangerous convicted paedophile.
David Mason was later convicted of a string of sex offences against two boys and four girls aged five to 13, including the girl’s three younger siblings. His crimes were described by the judge as “the most wicked, foul and vile acts of sexual abuse”. Mason had changed his name to David Matthews, and his local MP who had been unaware that Mason had been jailed in 1982 for abusing a 12-year-old boy scout and that he was wanted by Scottish police for questioning â€“ had helped him to acquire a new national insurance number.
The girl, who can be named only as W, had asked social services if she could stay a night at his home, after alleging that her mother and elder brother had attacked her. Mason had befriended W’s family. A social worker and a police officer visited him, but carried out only a perfunctory check of his accommodation and failed to ask him for proof of his identity, even though they later told the high court they had felt “uneasy”. Social workers then allowed to make her home with Mason without the private fostering assessment and checks required by law. They arranged for her child benefit to be transferred to him and backed his application to move to a larger property.
The “tragic story” of the council’s “deplorable breach of duty” has emerged from a high court judgement delivered behind closed doors last month, which has just been made public. The extraordinary case would have stayed secret had not the judge, Mr Justice Baker, decided in view of the “alarming matters” that emerged during the hearing to allow the “unusually extensive and troubling” wider issues it raises to be publicised.
The case came to the high court after Kent applied to take the 42-year-old mother’s three youngest children girls now aged 16 and seven and a boy of 15, all of whom were abused by Mason into care. The court has still not finally determined whether they will be removed from their mother. The judge said the council had “manifestly failed to comply with its obligations under private fostering provisions” in allowing W to be fostered by Mason without proper checks, and in an “incomprehensible” decision, after she left Mason’s home, that social workers should let her be fostered, aged 15, by her 21-year-old boyfriend, who claimed to have autistic spectrum disorder and who they knew was having sex with her.
W’s single mother and her five children, including W’s older brother, met Mason when they were moved by social services from a Kent town to a B&B where he was staying in another town in the county. The move took place because police concluded it was unsafe for the family to stay where they were after the mother accused her youngest child’s father of raping her in the street, though the allegation was withdrawn and her mobile phone showed she had sent him text messages saying she loved him.
The move, in December 2006, was to have “ultimately devastating consequences”, the judge said. Given their history, “one would naturally expect that the family would have been picked up by social services in the area into which they moved”. They were referred, with a note explaining that the “very vulnerable” mother was fleeing from domestic violence and was unable to set boundaries for her children. But social services in the new area took the decision â€“ described by the judge as “astonishing” that “due to staff shortages and high number of child protection referrals [this] case cannot be allocated for assessment”. The judge criticised social workers for failing to notice that the mother had a learning disability. It was not until January 2010 that a psychologist carried out an assessment which showed her to have an “extremely low” IQ of 63.
Mason befriended the family and, when he was rehoused and left the B&B the children started visiting him and staying overnight from January 2007. The judge said that he may not have abused W â€“ who lived with him from July to December 2008 â€“ but that he groomed her and she unwittingly facilitated access to the other children.
He was unmasked after a child unconnected with the family made allegations of abuse. He pleaded guilty to 26 offences between January 2007 and December 2008 and was sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment at Maidstone crown court in December 2009.Â The sentencing judge said the victims were bound to suffer lasting psychological harm. Mr Justice Baker said Mason had had the opportunity to abuse two of W’s younger siblings over a prolonged period â€“ abuse which was “extensive, repeated and profoundly damaging to the children”.
An Ofsted inspection of Kent social services in October 2010 found that “serious deficiencies in the social care fieldwork service result in too many children being left without sufficient safeguards or adequate protection arrangements”. W and her siblings were four of those children, the judge said.
A spokesman for Kent county council said: “What happened in this case is deeply regrettable and the council offers its sincerest apologies to the family. In recent months we have been absolutely focused on recognising our shortcomings and weaknesses and a plan to make sure substantial improvements are made to the services we provide to children in Kent is already being actioned.”
Read more: http://openur.co.uk/social-services-let-sex-abuser-foster-girl-aged-14/#ixzz24xssDPNS