Boy, three, killed after failings
Published 23/06/2011 | 10:42
A three-year-old boy who was tortured by a couple employed to care for him was not protected despite his killers being known to child protection agencies, a report has found.
Ryan Lovell-Hancox died from a brain injury he received at the Bilston, West Midlands, home of Christopher Taylor and Kayley Boleyn in December 2008.
Ryan's mother, Amy Hancox, who knew nothing of the abuse, Taylor and Boleyn were all "known" to statutory authorities, a serious case review by Wolverhampton's Safeguarding Children Board found.
Miss Hancox paid Boleyn and her boyfriend Taylor £40 a week to look after her three-year-old son after realising she could not cope with the strains of motherhood. The 21-year-old suffered from mental health problems and was trying to decorate her flat. She thought Boleyn would provide her young son with the love and attention he needed.
They were cousins and had grown up together. Miss Hancox had no reason not to trust the 19-year-old when she left Ryan at the flat she shared with Taylor, 25, in Bilston, in November 2008.
A month later the child was in a coma in hospital, having suffered a massive brain haemorrhage at the ground floor flat in Slim Avenue. The "bubbly, intelligent boy" never woke up and on Christmas Eve he died. Boleyn and Taylor were jailed for life for Ryan's murder at Wolverhampton Crown Court in July last year.
Concluding that lessons could be learned from the tragedy, the report's author, Martin Burnett, identified a number of failings by police, the Probation Service, Wolverhampton City Council and a contractor providing the authority's leaving care service.
Sarah Norman, Wolverhampton City Council's strategic director for community, which includes the children's services department, described Ryan's murder as a horrific and appalling tragedy.
Ms Norman said: "On behalf of the city council, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to his parents and their family for their unimaginable loss. I also want to say sorry to them for the things that we got wrong."
Admitting that the city council should have done more to help Ryan's mother, Ms Norman said: "I am clear that our job is to protect children from harm and in this case we and other agencies failed to do that. We have learnt the lessons from this tragic case and have acted on all of the recommendations in the serious case review with the aim of minimising the risk of something like this happening again in our city."