Society failed little Lily Mai: How catastrophic errors and indifference led to death of 10-week-old girl
Lauren Saint George, 25, was found guilty of killing her 10-week-old daughter, Lily-Mai Hurrell Saint George, and was convicted of infanticide at the Old Bailey. The former, who was suffering from post-natal depression, was accused of violently shaking her daughter and pulling and twisting her leg on January 31, 2018. This happened just hours after a social worker visited their place.
There was severe brain damage which forced doctors to take the decision to switch off her life support at the Great Ormond Street Hospital on February 2, 2022. Lily-Mai suffered 18 rib fractures, a leg fracture, and a fatal head injury as a result of the attack on her by her mother, who was clearly disturbed.
Born prematurely at 31 weeks, the toddler was handed over to her parents—Saint-George and Darren Hurrell, both aged 25—six days after the unfortunate incident occurred. Haringey social services did not heed the warning of the hospital professionals that the child was at risk of neglect after observing the parents' behaviour post her birth.
The mother's mental health and the commitment (or lack thereof) to her daughter by not visiting her in the hospital were some indicators the medical professionals were worried about. The police were also called to their apartment once when the couple got into a fight among themselves.
The case was given to Theresa Ferguson of the Haringey Child and Family Services. She even made a referral for a “legal gateway meeting” after the couple's fight. However, she left for her annual leave the very next day. The Prosecutor, Sally O’Neill QC, said, "To describe this timing as unfortunate is perhaps to understate the position.”
The child was given to the parents on the pretext of constant and regular supervision of social services. On January 26, the on-duty social worker went to their house. Following this, Ferguson and then the health visitor Alberta Nyantaki visited their house again. The latter had expressed "serious concerns" about the parents' upbringing and mental health to Ferguson and implied that the threshold of child protection had been met.
The mother refused to cooperate in the legal gateway meeting and swore at Ferguson. She had also texted a couple of nights prior to the meeting that her daughter was disturbing her sleep. The prosecutor added, “She was unable to contain herself in front of a social worker who was there to judge her competence as a mother, and you may have no doubt that she was unable to contain herself a few hours later.”
The court also decided to throw away charges of causing or allowing the murder of a child off of Hurrell and Saint-George. Speaking at the hearing this year, the prosecutor said, “Lily-Mai’s death could almost definitely have been avoided if she had not been discharged into the care of two people who were woefully unsuited to caring for her.” The jury found Saint George guilty of infanticide by a count of ten to one. However, in a decision that took eleven hours, they found her innocent of murder and manslaughter.
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The decision came on Monday, after which the judge adjourned the sentencing until September 9 and gave time to Probation Service to prepare a detailed report. Justice Spencer said: "It is quite clear to me you were depressed, still suffering from the effects of the birth at the time you committed the act that caused the death and the verdict of infanticide is one that has traditionally evoked sympathy rather than punishment.”