From the REPORT of the CALEB NESS INQUIRY
Chair: Susan O’Brien QC
Dr. Helen Hammond
"The baby’s father, Alexander Ness, went to trial, charged with assault and murder."
"Eventually, in February 2003, he pled guilty to culpable homicide. It was accepted that he
could establish diminished responsibility caused by brain injuries he had sustained some
months before the baby was born. He had met the mother, Shirley Malcolm, in the autumn of
2000, soon after being released from prison on licence after serving most of a five year
sentence for drug related offences. His earlier criminal history included a conviction for very
serious assault of an adult."
"A Child Protection Case Conference was held while the baby was still in hospital on 9 August
2001. Caleb was put on the Child Protection Register. Later, he went home with his mother. It
was well known that his father would be visiting often, although he was not actually living
with the mother. No further decision or formal review of risk took place before the baby died."
"The Inquiry has reached the conclusion that this was an avoidable child death. Having
reviewed all the evidence, we believe that neither parent should have had unsupervised care of
"No single individual should be held responsible. We identified fault at almost every level in
every agency involved. Many concerned professionals did their best for this family, but too
many operated from within a narrow perspective without full appreciation of the wider
picture. We are concerned that, two years after Caleb’s death, there is still complacency about
this blinkered approach to child protection, particularly at a management level."
"We are aware that many of our recommendations are not new, and that many have been
made before, in earlier reports and reviews. However, we believe that this report highlights
some specific problems in the interface between adult and child services, particularly in the
fields of brain injury and substance misuse."
It was an avoidable death but no single individual should be held responsible ?
Susan O’Brien QC is to chair the Scottish child abuse inquiry. It is beginning to look like Susan O`Brien is a `safe pair of hands.`