April 2011

Bobby Louch killer mum Colette Harris has appeal refused 

Convicted killer Colette Harris had her appeal refused  Convicted killer Colette Harris had her appeal refused

A MOTHER convicted of murdering her 21-month-old son has lost her appeal against her conviction.

Colette Harris, aged 31, of Chapel Close, Crayford, was found guilty in May last year, of killing Bobby Louch at their home in Halcot Avenue, Bexleyheath.

She was given a life sentence with a recommendation she serve 16 years before being eligible for parole.

Harris appealed against the decision to the High Court, with her lawyers suggesting her conviction was “unsafe”.

But the three judges who heard the case at the Court of Appeal on April 15, unanimously turned down the appeal.

Bobby died on December 29 2008, after suffering a catalogue of more than 40 injuries including bleeding to his abdomen and brain, fractured ribs, burns to his hand and bruising.

Harris and her former boyfriend James Phillips, then aged 25, of Dale View, Erith, were accused of killing the toddler.

Both denied the charges.

After a trial at the Old Bailey, Harris was found guilty, but Phillips was cleared of the killing and the alternative charges of manslaughter and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The court heard Bobby had been the victim of “deliberate and repeated violence”.

Many of his injuries to his head and body had been caused by kicks and punches and the fatal injuries had been inflicted in the 48 hours before his death.

Harris maintained her innocence, even after her conviction, shouting “I didn’t hurt him” from the dock.

Three weeks before his death, Bobby was taken to Darenth Valley Hospital with bruising on his forehead and a broken leg.

Harris claimed the bruising had been caused by Bobby banging his head against his cot.

She claimed she had been out of the room when he broke his leg.

Despite their suspicions, hospital staff did not report the toddler’s injuries and his mother was allowed to take him home.

The hospital was later criticised in a report into Bobby’s death from the Bexley Safeguarding Children Board, which nevertheless concluded the toddler’s death had not been forseeable.

May 2010

Toddler murder: Hospital should have flagged up previous injuries

A hospital that treated a toddler weeks before he was beaten to death by his mum should have referred the visit to social services, a serious case review has said.

Staff at Darent Valley Hospital are said to have been “shocked and distraught” when told young Bobby Louch had been murdered.

It happened just three weeks after they had treated him for a broken leg.

The hospital has apologised for not referring the 21-month-old’s A&E visit, on December 8, 2008, to child social services teams in Bexley, where he lived with mum Collette Harris.

She has been sentenced to at least 16 years behind bars for punching and kicking him to death on December 29 that year.

Staff at the Dartford hospital were suspicious of the child’s injuries but could find no evidence they were caused by anything other than an accident and did not refer the incident on, according to a report from Bexley’s local safeguarding children board.

But although the hospital has now been advised to refer any unexplained serious child injuries to social services, the serious case review has concluded the tragedy was “not foreseeable”.