‘Sorry’ too late for tragic Daniel

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The headline said it all: ‘Missed chances to help starved boy.’ That was a rather mild summary of the hell on earth endured by a four year old who died at the hands of his evil parents in England last year.

Daniel Pelka was starved and beaten for months before he died last March at his Coventry home. He’d attended hospital with broken bones. Police had been called to the family home to investigate a number of domestic incidents. He arrived at school with cuts and bruises and had been seen scavenging for food. He was just a stone and a half when he eventually passed away.

Magdalena Luczak, 27, and Mariusz Krezolek, 34 were found guilty of Daniel’s murder last July. They were told they’d serve at least 30 years each - an appropriately stiff sentence. No prison term in the world however will give the once smiling four year old back his life.

Police, social workers and teachers all missed the signs that Daniel, who had little English, was being terrorised by the people who should have been caring for him the most.

His mother had told doctors he’d broken his arm while falling off the sofa, and that other cuts and bruises were the result of him falling off his bike. Police were called to 26 separate incidents at the family home, many involving domestic violence and alcohol abuse, still, no one stepped in to help the vulnerable schoolboy.

A report into the events which led up to his death has pointed out a catalogue of errors and missed opportunities with regards to his care, however no one has been disciplined for the failure to act in a professional capacity. The report’s author Ron Lock claimed that health professionals had been ‘too optimistic’ about they saw. In other words, they took Daniel’s evil and manipulating mother at her word. They hoped for the best and wanted to believe she was telling the truth when the physical evidence was so blatantly pointing in a more grim direction.

There are very few certainties in life but one of them is that this will not be the last time something like this happens. It won’t be the last time a child dies because boxes are ticked too easily. People in suits will issue grovelling press statements about how it ‘should never have happened.’ It did, and it’s too late now to do anything about it.

It’s too easy to use the ‘cuts’ culture to try and justify some children slipping through the net. In situations like these certain people, in certain roles failed. They didn’t do their jobs. They didn’t act. It’s too late now for Daniel Pelka and it makes me shudder to think that there are other children, equally invisible, equally as abused, out there somewhere today. The best we can hope for is that the people who have the power to step in are quicker to do so in the wake of the report issued this week.