Starved Girl's Death 'Preventable'

The death of a seven-year-old girl who starved to death at her home in Birmingham could have been prevented, a report has found.

A Serious Case Review into the death of Khyra Ishaq identified several missed opportunities by professional agencies to intervene in her case, which could have saved her life.

The report concluded: "Although the scale of the abuse inflicted would have been hard to predict, Khyra's death was preventable."

Better assessments and more effective communication could have prevented her death, the report said.

Khyra died at her home in the Handsworth district of Birmingham in May 2008, following months of abuse at the hands of her mother Angela Gordon and her stepfather Junaid Abuhamza.

The seven-year-old died from an infection caused by extreme malnutrition - she weighed just 2st 9lb when she was found.

She had been removed from school five months before she died and her mother was supposed to be tutoring her at home.

The report cited the "confrontational attitude and resistance" of Khyra's mother to engage with authorities as a major factor in the case and identified a "major safeguarding flaw" in home education legislation, which, it said, "placed a greater emphasis on parental choice than the protection and welfare of children".

Both Gordon and Abuhamza were jailed earlier this year after admitting being responsible for Khyra's death - Gordon was jailed for 15 years and Abuhamza for seven and a half years. Both also admitted to five other child cruelty charges, relating to other children who cannot be named.

The Serious Case Review is the first to be published in full in England - previously only summaries of cases involving children have been published.

The report made 18 recommendations for specific across action across a number of organisations, including the city council, the safeguarding board, West Midlands and the city's primary care trusts, including a review of home education legislation to incorporate safeguarding responsibilities and ensuring that the Education Otherwise Service (home education) demonstrates a prioritisation of the safeguarding of children educated at home.

Another 53 areas for improvement were also identified.

Hilary Thompson, Chair of the Birmingham Safeguarding Board, which published the report, said: "Those who were ultimately responsible for this crime have now been held to account, but the professionals who came into contact with Khyra and her family accept that they could have done more to unearth what was happening and protect her."


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