Mar 22, 2016

Rebecca Kandare tragedy: Eight month old whose religious sect parents left her to starve 'could have been saved' by authorities

Star Express
March 21, 2016
The authorities could have saved an eight-month-old girl left to starve and die by her parents, a serious case review concluded today.
But crucial chances to intervene were missed and little Rebecca Kandare was left to her fate at the hands of her 29-year-old father Brian and mother Precious who lived in South Avenue, Wednesfield.
They thought the child was being made ill by 'evil spirits' - and that only the prayers of a faith healer could save her.
Brian was a pastor of at a branch of the Africa-based Gospel of God Apostolic Church that discouraged medical treatment and worshipped at a converted garage in the back garden of a house in Nine Elms Lane, Park Village, Wolverhampton.
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His wife Precious, aged 37, was medically trained having taken part in a nursing course at Wolverhampton University in 2008 before quitting her studies. But she wilfully ignored the telltale signs of neglect in the child who was last seen by a a health visitor or GP 22 days after her birth.
The couple's twisted religious beliefs allowed Rebecca to become one of the worst cases of malnutrition one medical expert had seen in 33 years.
Rebecca died at New Cross Hospital on January 6 2014, weighing just 11lb 11oz – only 4lbs heavier than when she was born eight months earlier. She had no teeth, hardly any hair, had loose folds of skin because she weighed so little and was suffering from both rickets and pneumonia.
Medical experts later said that the baby had been critically malnourished for up to three months before her death.
And in November 2015 Rebecca's parents were convicted of her manslaughter and jailed for a total of more than 17 years. Brian was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison and Precious to eight years.
Judge Justice Edis told the pair: “I regard the role of the church as having some relevance in this case, but you are both old enough to know how to care for your children.
“No creature trusts another as much as a small baby trusts its parents. Neither of you cared enough if she lived or died and lost sight of where your true duties lay.
“The disastrous decision to keep her away from life-saving care was not that of the parents alone, but they are fully accountable for it."
Missed opportunities
Published today, the serious case review looked at the involvement various agencies had with the Kandares in a bid to identify whether anything could have been done differently to prevent Rebecca's death.
The review concluded 'specific opportunities' were missed and that increased contact between medical professionals and Rebecca would have prevented her death.
The report said: "There were specific opportunities that were missed, where a different response by professionals should have led to a reassessment of Rebecca’s needs, and those of the siblings.
"If there had been contacts with health visiting and GP services, the signs and symptoms in Rebecca would have been noticed. This would have led to appropriate services being provided by all agencies, which would have prevented Rebecca’s death."
The review also made a number of recommendations as a result of its findings, including:
Encouraging professionals to ask parents and carers about their faith and beliefs.Improving the way agencies work with families who are reluctant to engage with them.Improving the sharing and recording of information by agencies.Reassessing an individual's circumstances in light of new information or events.
Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board said these suggestions had already been implemented.
Alan Coe explains the Serious Case Review
Alan Coe from Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, who called for the independent review of the case, expressed his 'bitter disappointment' at the tragedy of Rebecca's death.
He said: "On behalf of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board and the agencies involved in this case, I would like to express our deep sorrow at Rebecca's death.
"It was an appalling tragedy. Her parents, to whom she should have looked to for care and support, failed to provide them, and they have been rightly imprisoned for their crimes.
"We must be very clear - Rebecca's parents were responsible for her death. They did everything they could to disguise their neglect of their daughter while superficially complying with health professionals in particular.
"However opportunities were missed to intervene - and had they been taken it might well have made a difference; that is a bitter disappointment to all concerned."
The serious case review panel included representatives from Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Early Years, Social Care and Safeguarding departments, Wolverhampton Community Safety Partnership and West Midlands Police. A representative from the voluntary sector and an advisor on culture and faith were also part of the panel.

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