Social worker who left baby with parents, who are now standing trial for her murder, sobs in court


‘I was confident he would safeguard Lily-Mai’: Social worker tells murder trial she put her faith in father of 10-week-old baby girl hours before she was ‘violently shaken’ and later died in hospital – as both parents stand trial

  • Parents Lauren Saint George and Darren Hurrell, both 25, accused of murder
  • Both deny killing tiny Lily-Mai Saint George when she was just ten weeks old
  • Court heard hospital staff were worried about neglect and held meetings
  • They wanted Saint George and Lily-Mail to be supervised in a live-in unit
  • But Haringey social services overruled concerns and said it was not possible
  • Midwife Marie Creighton said a social worker ‘displayed disinterested attitude’

A social worker was ‘confident’ that a father could look after his ten-week-old daughter hours before she was rushed to hospital where she later died, a court heard today.

Lily-Mai Saint George died from a serious head injury and had also suffered 18 rib fractures, two fractures in her leg and severe bruising.

Lauren Saint George and Darren Hurrell, both 25, allegedly shook their ten-week-old daughter to death eight days after she was released into their care against the advice of hospital staff.

The parents both deny murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a person under 16 years old.

Lily-Mai was born prematurely in November 2017 and spent the first two months of her life in Barnet Hospital, before she was discharged into her parents’ care on 25 January 2018.

Saint George and Hurrell had been homeless for several years and staff had tried to stop them taking Lily-Mai home, believing they were incapable of looking after her.

They were horrified when Saint George had told staff that she ‘hated’ the noises Lily-Mai made and wished she would ‘cry instead of groaning’.

The baby died at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital on 2 February 2018, after being found unresponsive by her parents at their home in Belmont Road, Haringey, two days earlier.

Lauren Saint George, pictured arriving at court yesterday, and Darren Hurrell, both 25, allegedly shook their ten-week-old daughter to death

Lauren Saint George, pictured arriving at court yesterday, and Darren Hurrell, both 25, allegedly shook their ten-week-old daughter to death

Darren Hurrell arrives at Wood Green Crown Court, London, where he and Lauren Saint George are charged with the murder of their baby daughter

Darren Hurrell arrives at Wood Green Crown Court, London, where he and Lauren Saint George are charged with the murder of their baby daughter

Lily-Mai was 10 weeks and two days old and only two weeks past a normal pregnancy term.

Haringey social worker Theresa Ferguson was put in charge of the case on 12 January 2018 and visited the family on 31 January at around 3pm.

She relayed the care options for Lily-Mai following a ‘legal gateway meeting’ that took place earlier that day to discuss safeguarding the baby.

The panel’s preferred option at that meeting was a ‘residential placement’ for the family which would mean that professionals could observe the parents taking care of their baby, the court heard.

Saint George was opposed to this plan, but Hurrell was willing to go into a ‘father and baby’ placement, jurors were told.

The father allegedly told Ms Ferguson during her visit: ‘Lily-Mai is my daughter. If that is what you are asking of me then I’ll do it.

‘She is my only child. She is my first child. I’ll do anything I have to do.’

Saint George, however, is said to have been ‘very despondent’ on hearing the proposed placement plan.

Lauren Saint George smiles broadly as she leaves Woodgreen Crown Court on Tuesday

Lauren Saint George smiles broadly as she leaves Woodgreen Crown Court on Tuesday

Darren Hurrell arrived at Wood Green Crown Court, London, on Tuesday where he and Lauren Saint George are charged with the murder

Darren Hurrell arrived at Wood Green Crown Court, London, on Tuesday where he and Lauren Saint George are charged with the murder

A life just 73 days long: The tragic dates in little Lily-Mai’s too-short childhood 

November 21, 2017 – Lily-Mai is born prematurely and spends the first two months of her life in Barnet Hospital.

January 16, 2018 – Staff at the hospital Staff hold meetings with the parents when they talk about the care of Lily-Mai

January 21, 2018 – Another meeting is held where ‘concerns about the possibility of neglect’ are aired.

January 24, 2018 – Police are called to a domestic incident at Saint George and Hurrell’s flat in Haringey. Social worker Theresa Ferguson is informed and she makes a referral for a ‘legal gateway meeting’ which was the first step in intervening in Lily-Mai’s care.

January 25, 2018 – Lily-Mail is released into the care of both of her parents, despite medics’ concerns. Theresa Ferguson goes on holiday.

January 26, 2018 – Duty social worker Muriel Caboste visits the flat and decides there are not increased child protection issues. This is despite her noticing the parents were not following the feeding and medication chart that they had been provided with on discharge.

January 31, 2018 – Theresa Ferguson has returned from holiday and visits them at their flat to discuss the ‘legal gateway meeting’ and how to safeguard Lily-Mai. Saint George refuses to engage and storms out. Four hours later Saint George rings 999 and says Lily-Mail is seriously ill and she is rushed to hospital.

February 2, 2018 – Lily-Mail is pronounced dead at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

 

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‘You want to take her, just take her, that’s fine,’ she allegedly told Ms Ferguson in a ‘monotone’ voice.

The social worker added that the mum left the bedroom and slammed the door behind her after hearing her partner accepting the ‘father and baby’ placement.

Later in her evidence, Ms Ferguson agreed that Saint George was not ‘angry or threatening’ during that visit, but ‘utterly bolshy and childlike’.

‘I just thought she needed support,’ she said.

Jurors heard that, after the visit, plans to initiate the father and baby placement were to be kickstarted.

Asked how she felt about the safeguarding of Lily-Mai upon leaving the flat, Ms Ferguson said: ‘I had quite a thorough conversation with Darren making it clear that he was not to leave Lily-Mai with Lauren.

‘He felt he would be able to call the police if he needed to and there would be options where he could go to stay if he needed to.

‘I was confident that Darren was able to safeguard Lily-Mai.’

In her statement made nearer to the time, Ms Ferguson said: ‘I left the address feeling that Darren was a safeguarding influence for Lily-Mai.’

Asked about the baby’s appearance during this visit, Ms Ferguson told the jurors that the baby looked slightly pale and mottled.

The witness said she spoke with Hurrell about the mottling and he explained that it looked that way because of the light in the room and because Lily-Mai was wearing white.

Saint George made the 999 call to report Lily-Mai’s had collapsed hours later at around 9pm that same day, jurors have heard.

The next day, 1 February, Ms Ferguson returned a call from Saint George and learned that Lily-Mai had been taken to hospital, the court heard.

The social worker began to cry and could not read her statement aloud.

Prosecutor Sally O’Neill, QC, recited it for her and said ‘[Saint George] had said that Lily-Mai was struggling to breathe and had to call an ambulance and did not know what happened.

‘And wished she had picked up on the signs earlier.’

Jurors also heard that Ms Ferguson was in her second year of being a social worker when she was allocated Lily-Mai’s case.

At the time, she had 36 open assessments and 41 allocated cases, it is said.

‘You had to be guided by your manager. Your hands were really tied weren’t they?’ Paul Mendelle, QC, defending Hurrell, asked.

‘You wanted to do the best for the children in your care?’

‘Yeah,’ Ms Ferguson agreed tearfully.

Saint George, of Bonnington House, Enfield, and Hurrell, of Meadow Lane, Alvaston, Derby, deny murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a person under 16 years old.

The trial continues.

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