Peter Connelly (also known as “Baby P”, “Child A” and “Baby Peter”) was a British 17-month old boy who died in London after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period, during which he was repeatedly seen by Haringey Children’s services and NHS health professionals.

Baby P’s real first name was revealed as “Peter” on the conclusion of a subsequent trial of Peter’s mother’s boyfriend on a charge of raping a two-year-old. His full identity was revealed when his killers were named after the expiry of a court anonymity order on 10 August 2009.

The case caused shock and concern among the public and in Parliament, partly because of the magnitude of Peter’s injuries, and partly because Peter had lived in the London Borough of Haringey, North London, under the same child care authorities that had already failed ten years earlier in the case of Victoria Climbié. This had led to a public enquiry which resulted in measures being put in place in an effort to prevent similar cases happening.

Steven Barker, Tracey Connelly & Jason Owen

Peter’s mother, Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and Jason Owen (later revealed to be the brother of Barker) were all convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child, the mother having pleaded guilty to the charge. A court order issued by the High Court in England had prevented the publication of the identity of Baby P; this was lifted on 1 May 2009 by Mr Justice Coleridge. An order sought by Haringey Council to stop publication of the identities of his mother and her boyfriend, was granted, but expired on 10 August 2009

baby peter

Eight broken ribs and a broken back, with another area of bleeding around the spine at neck level.

• Numerous bruises, cuts and abrasions, including a deep tear to his left ear lobe, which had been pulled away from his head.

• Severe lacerations to the top of his head, including a large gouge which could have been caused by a dog bite.

• Blackened finger- and toenails, with several nails missing; the middle finger of his right hand was without a nail and its tip was also missing, as if it had been sliced off.

• A tear to his fraenulum, the strip of skin between the middle of the upper lip and the gum, which had partially healed.

• One of his front teeth had also been knocked out and was found in his colon. He had swallowed it.

The jury was not shown photographs of the child’s actual injuries because it would be too upsetting but was shown computer generated images of his injuries.

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See also

Steven Barker – Man jailed over death of Baby P loses rape appeal

Jason Owen – ‘Baby P lodger’ goes free

Tracey Connelly – Baby P’s jailed mother is reunited with her children

Timeline of Baby P case

An account of the developments surrounding the case of 17-month-old boy Baby Peter who died in Haringey, north London, in August 2007 after suffering a series of injuries:

1 March 2006: Baby Peter is born to Tracey Connelly.

June 2006: Connelly begins a relationship with a new boyfriend Steven Barker.

November 2006: Barker moves into Connelly’s home.

December 2006: Connelly is arrested after bruises are spotted on the boy’s face and chest by a GP.

January 2007: The boy is returned home five weeks after being put in the care of a family friend.

February 2007: A whistle-blower, former social worker Nevres Kemal, sends a letter about her concerns over alleged failings in child protection in Haringey to the Department of Health.

12 March 2007: Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) inspectors meet Haringey officials to discuss concerns raised by Ms Kemal in the letter sent by her lawyer, which was dated 16 February 2007.

April 2007: Baby Peter is admitted to North Middlesex hospital with bruises, two black eyes and swelling on the left side of his head.

1 April 2007: Ofsted takes over responsibility for inspecting children’s services from the CSCI.

May 2007: After seeing marks on the boy’s face, a social worker sends Baby Peter to the North Middlesex where 12 areas of bruises and scratches are found. Connelly is re-arrested.

June 2007: Barker’s brother, Jason Owen, moves into the home with a 15-year-old girl.

30 July 2007: Injuries to Baby Peter’s face and hands are missed by a social worker after the boy is deliberately smeared with chocolate to hide them.

1 August 2007: The boy is examined at a child development clinic.

2 August 2007: Police tell Connelly she will not be prosecuted after her case is considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.

3 August 2007: Baby Peter is found dead in his cot.

11 November 2008: Owen, 36, from Bromley, and Barker, then 32, are found guilty of causing the death of Baby Peter. Connelly had pleaded guilty to the same charge.

13 November 2008: Children’s Minister Ed Balls orders an inquiry into the role of the local authority, the health authority and the police in the case of Baby Peter.

14 November 2008: Downing Street denies accusations of “buck-passing” after details of whistle-blower Nevres Kemal’s letter about Haringey’s failings emerge.

1 December 2008: Following a report into Haringey Children’s Services, its leader George Meehan and cabinet member for children and young people Liz Santry resign. Sharon Shoesmith is removed as the local authority’s director of children’s services.

8 December 2008: Ms Shoesmith is sacked by a panel of councillors with immediate effect.

7 February 2009: Ms Shoesmith says the way ministers handled the Baby Peter case was “breathtakingly reckless”.

19 February 2009: Dr Jerome Ikwueke, a GP who saw Baby Peter 14 times before his death, is suspended by the General Medical Council.

9 March 2009: Ms Shoesmith lodges an employment tribunal claimagainst Haringey Council.

15 March 2009: A leaked report into the death of Baby Peter suggests there were further missed opportunities to save him from abuse.

29 April 2009: Haringey Council dismisses a social worker and three managers for failings in the care of Baby Peter.

1 May 2009: Barker is convicted of raping a two-year-old girl in north London. The crime came to light after he was arrested over Baby Peter’s death. The Old Bailey jury cleared Connelly of cruelty to the girl. Baby Peter’s name is revealed at the request of his family.

13 May 2009: The NHS is criticised by the Care Quality Commission for failing in the care given to Baby Peter.

22 May 2009: Connelly gets an indefinite jail term with a minimum term of five years for her part in her son’s death. Barker is jailed for life with a minimum of 10 years for raping the two-year-old and given a 12-year term to run concurrently over his role in Baby Peter’s death. Owen gets an indefinite sentence with a minimum term of three years.

3 July 2009: Inspectors criticise Haringey Council, saying it has only made limited progress in tackling areas of weakness.

11 August 2009: Connelly and Barker are named for the first time after the expiry of a court order.

15 September 2010: Ms Shoesmith hits back over her sacking by Haringey Council, asking a Commons committee why the police and health services had not also been made to take responsibility.

21 September 2010: Connelly and Barker are denied public funding to be represented at any resumed inquest into the child’s death. A pre-inquest review was told they had not been given funds for legal representation. Baby Peter’s father had said he wanted an inquest to take place.

22 October 2010: Two social workers who dealt with Baby Peter, Gillie Christou and Maria Ward, lose their claim for unfair dismissal. They had argued they were sacked unfairly by Haringey Council following his death, but a tribunal found the authority acted reasonably because of failings in the care they provided.

26 October 2010: The second serious case review – the official account of the agencies’ failings over Peter – is published, after the first one was ruled “inadequate” by Ofsted.

27 May 2011: The Court of Appeal rules in favour of Ms Shoesmith, who claims former Children’s Secretary Ed Balls and Haringey Council acted unlawfully by sacking her.

24 June 2011: The Department for Education and Haringey Council confirm they will seek an appeal at the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Sharon Shoesmith was unfairly sacked.

2 August 2011: The Supreme Court refuses to grant officials leave to appeal against the decision that Ms Shoesmith was unfairly sacked.

5 August 2011: Jason Owen, now 39, is released from prison after serving three years of a six-year sentence.

Biography

Peter Connelly was born to Tracey Connelly on 1 March 2006. In November, Connelly’s new boyfriend, Steven Barker, moved in with her. In December, a GP noticed bruises on Peter’s face and chest. His mother was arrested and Peter was put into the care of a family friend, but returned home to his mother’s care in January 2007. Over the next few months, Peter was admitted to hospital on two occasions suffering from injuries including bruising, scratches and swelling on the side of the head. Connelly was arrested again in May 2007.

In June 2007, a social worker observed marks on Peter and informed the police. A medical examination concluded that the bruising was due to abuse. On 4 June, the baby was placed with a friend for safeguarding. Over a month later, on 25 July, Haringey Council’s Children & Young People’s Service obtained legal advice which indicated that the “threshold for initiating Care Proceedings…was not met”.

On 1 August 2007, Baby Peter was seen at St. Ann’s Hospital in north London by locum paediatrician Dr. Sabah Al-Zayyat. Serious injuries, including a broken back and broken ribs, very likely went undetected (the autopsy report believed these to have pre-dated Al-Zayyat’s examination). A day later, Connelly was informed that she would not be prosecuted.

The next day, an ambulance was called and Peter was found in his cot, blue and clad only in a nappy. After attempts at resuscitation, he was taken to North Middlesex hospital with his mother but was pronounced dead at 12:20 pm. A post-mortem revealed he had swallowed a tooth after being punched. Other injuries included a broken back, broken ribs, mutilated fingertips and fingernails missing.

The police immediately began a murder investigation and Baby P’s mother was arrested. So too were Barker, his brother Jason Owen and his 15-year-old girlfriend, who had fled to and were hiding in a campsite in Epping Forest

Conviction

On 11 November 2008, Owen, 36, and his brother Barker, 32, were found guilty of “causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person”. Connelly, 27, had pleaded guilty to this charge. Earlier in the trial, Owen and Connelly had been cleared of murder due to insufficient evidence.Barker was found not guilty of murder by a jury.

A second trial occurred in April 2009, when Connelly and Barker, under aliases, faced charges related to the rape of a two-year old girl. The girl was also on Haringey’s child protection register. Barker was found guilty of rape, while Connelly was found not guilty of child cruelty charges.Their defence lawyers argued that this second trial was nearly undermined by bloggers publishing information (linking them to the death of Peter) which could have prejudiced the jury.

Sentencing for both trials together took place on 22 May 2009 at the Old Bailey. Connelly was ordered to be held indefinitely, until “deemed no longer to be a risk to the public and in particular to small children”, with a minimum term of five years. Barker was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape, with a minimum sentence of ten years, and a 12-year sentence for his role in the death of Peter, to run concurrently. Owen was also jailed indefinitely, and would serve at least three years. The sentences were criticised as too lenient by the NSPCC‘s chief executive,and the Attorney General considered referring them to the Court of Appeal for review,but concluded there was “no realistic prospect” of the Court of Appeal increasing the sentences. The three appealed against their sentences,Barker against both convictions and sentences

Internal inquiry

Haringey Council initiated an internal audit Serious Case Review (SCR) after Peter’s death. After completion of the court case, only an executive summary was released to the public. The full report was kept confidential, with only some employees of Haringey Council and Haringey Labour councillors allowed access. The two local MPs whose constituencies cover Haringey (Lynne Featherstone and David Lammy), leader of the opposition Robert Gorrie, and opposition spokesperson for Children’s Services were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements to view the document.Ed Balls condemned the Serious Case Review and called for a second report with an independent adjudicator.

The Mail on Sunday on 15 March 2009 reported that details of the SCR had come into its possession. The article claimed that the executive summary of the SCR either conflicted or omitted details about how the case had been handled and the extent of the injuries suffered by Peter. Furthermore, there were instances of mishandling by officials, missed and delayed meetings, miscommunication among officials, and a failure to follow through with decisions related to the child’s safety. It also noted among other issues that officials had not followed through with obtaining an “interim care order” that would have removed Peter from his home when they had agreed that legal grounds had existed for doing so six months before he died; key officials also failed to attend a 25 July 2007 meeting intended to decide if it would be necessary to remove Peter from his mother’s home at that time