WALES – Serious Case Review: agencies could not have predicted child stabbing

Child protection professionals acted correctly in the case of an 11-month girl stabbed to death by her mother last year, a serious case review concludes today.

The SCR said agencies could not have predicted or prevented the manslaughter of Hayley Ruck in November 2010 by her mother, Jade Ruck, 23, at their home in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The review made no recommendations for service improvement.

Police visited the home just four hours before the child died, but saw no cause for immediate child protection concern during that initial visit, found the review, commissioned by Monmouthshire Safeguarding Children Board.

The SCR said Ruck had come to the attention of police and social services on two different occasions, but that “neither event raised concerns about the parenting provided”. Ruck had been diagnosed as having periodical symptoms of depression as a young adult but there was no evidence that this undermined her functioning as a mother.

On the visit, police spoke to Ruck about concerns reported to them by a third party, saying Ruck had said earlier that day that she wanted to die.

The SCR said that, when police arrived that evening, “[Hayley] was seen and found to be sleeping in a well-kept, tidy flat. [Her] mother stated she had trouble sleeping over the previous few nights which had left her feeling emotional and tearful.

“Avenues for support were discussed and the police left with mother saying that she intended to retire to bed for the evening and seek advice in the morning.

“The police were satisfied that no further immediate action was required and made a referral to social services for a follow up assessment.”

At 05.34am on the same day a telephone call was received from Ruck stating that she had stabbed her baby. Police returned to the home, found Hayley dead and arrested her mother for murder.

The court accepted Ruck’s plea for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

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