January 2009

ANOTHER baby dies as health workers fail to spot signs of abuse as mother is jailed for just five years

A mother who killed her three-month-old boy after weeks of abuse has been jailed for five years.

Joseph Kompus suffered massive head wounds at the hands of his mother Maria Kompusova and died in September 2007 at the family’s home in Walthamstow, east London.

His mother, Maria Kompusova, 22, of Hoe Street, Walthamstow, east London, was found guilty of manslaughter last month after being cleared of murder.

The infant’s fatal brain injuries were said to be so severe that they resembled those of a car crash victim.

X-rays later showed he had also suffered fractures to his legs, skull, one arm and a rib.

Sentencing her today, Old Bailey Judge Richard Hawkins told her: ‘It is not known from the evidence what you did.’

He said another expert had said the brain injury was due to rough handling.

Joseph had five earlier fractures but it could not be proved who had caused them.

The judge added: ‘The Crown’s case against you as far as manslaughter is concerned was that it was one traumatic incident.’

He said he had taken into account that Kompusova had been a good mother to an older child.

The court was told that she and partner Joseph Skripka, 23, had come to Britain to better their lives.

She had given birth to two children in a short space of time and lived in a cramped flat above a shop while Mr Skripka worked long hours in a laundry.

Outside court, investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Graham Grant, of the Child Abuse Investigation Command, said: ‘It is a matter of great distress when a child has suffered unnecessary cruelty at the hands of their carer.

‘We do not know exactly what happened on the day of the child’s death, as his mother has offered us no explanation as to how he sustained his injuries.’

Kompusova’s conviction comes weeks after health workers failed to spot her baby was at risk.

Joseph had never been seen by social services but he did have contact with health workers during his short life, according to an official report into his death.

The serious case review, conducted in Waltham Forest, found that opportunities were missed which could have led to Joseph receiving protection.

The report said: ‘The pieces of the puzzle were not put together in an effort to establish the story of this child’s life and the expectations of his care.

‘There is a lack of systematic collection of information, analysis and recommendation. Expected standards were not met.’

The report called for a series of actions from Waltham Forest doctors and hospital staff to improve child protection in the borough.

The family also had contact with health workers in Haringey  –  but it is unclear whether the baby’s health was reviewed.

Kompusova, 22, blamed her partner Joseph Skripka  –  who was never put on trial and was at work at the time of the death.

A Slovakian who has been living in Britain for four years, Kompusova called the emergency services at 1.38pm on 24 September 2007 from her home in Walthamstow.

Paramedics arrived to find the baby pale and motionless on the sofa.

During the trial, the court was told that x-rays showed a fracture to Joseph’s right arm had been caused up to four weeks earlier by a twisting or gripping force.

Prosecutors said Joseph’s broken rib would have been caused by a ‘severe side to side squeezing of the rib cage’.

Joseph had a fracture to his right thigh bone and his left lower leg dating back three weeks, and the fracture to his skull was caused by a direct impact in the 10 days leading up to his death, the court heard.