Social services failed children killed by schizophrenic mother
Social services failed to recognise the risk posed by a mentally ill woman who killed her two children after being allowed unsupervised access, an inquiry has found.
Vivian Gamor was acting increasingly strangely towards her children before she bludgeoned 10-year-old Antoine with a claw hammer and suffocated daughter Kenniece, three, with cling film in January last year.
The inquiry into their deaths concluded that mental health staff should have taken more account of Gamor’s bizarre behaviour, including her claims that she was not their real mother and that Jesus was her twin.
Jimi Ogunkoya, the children’s father, had warned social services about his former partner in the past.
But the report concluded that no single judgment or action by agencies had led to or could have prevented the deaths.
Gamor, 30, from Hackney, east London, had been sectioned already under the Mental Health Act in 2006 for threatening her half sister with knife, but was later released after doctors concluded she posed no risk to herself or others.
The paranoid schizophrenic was later allowed limited, supervised contact with her children but their father was worried about the prospect of unsupervised overnight stays.
One day when he had picked the children up from a visit in 2005, he found that Gamor had shaved the hair off the side of her daughter’s head.
The following year she said she no longer wanted to see them, believing her own children had in fact been stillborn and that Antoine and Kenniece had been swapped with them at birth.
But his attempts to stop Gamor seeing the children were rebuffed and he was told he would not be allowed to come between them and their mother.
When he voiced concerns about the overnight stays to a social worker, she told him: “She is their mother.”
After killing her children, Gamor dialled 999 and told the operator: “I kind of lost it, I snapped.”
When police arrived they found the bodies of her children lying in her bedroom, with a blood-stained hammer lying next to Kenniece, and Antoine crouched in a defensive position between the cupboard and the wall.
The mother told officers: “I don’t care, they aren’t mine.”
Tests showed she had not taken her prescribed anti-psychotic drugs for 10 days and Gamor was detained indefinitely after admitting two counts of manslaughter at the Old Bailey last August.
Alan Wood, director of Children’s Services at Hackney Council, said the report showed how child protection and mental health services needed towork more closely in the future.
He said the case highlighted “how unpredictable mental illness can be and the dreadful impact it can have on families”.
“Nothing we implement can change the tragic outcome of this case, but we would like to assure the family that lessons have been learned by all partners.
“All the recommendations of the report have already been implemented, and the council has gone further in implementing a radical review of social work services, including a robust assessment of the professional skills of every social worker in the organisation.”
The NSPCC called for better protection for children living with a mentally ill parent or carer.
A spokeswoman said: “Every NHS trust needs to have a named doctor or nurse to raise awareness amongst adult mental health services of the needs of children living with a parent or carer with a mental illness.”