April 2008

Father’s last-ditch appeal over Darwen girl’s death

A father has failed in a last ditch bid to sue police and social services over the death of his daughter from a drug overdose.

Three law lords, headed by the country’s senior law lord, Lord Bingham, a former Lord Chief Justice, have refused Victor Strickson permission to challenge earlier court rulings blocking his bid to take legal action.

In October 2001 when she was just 13, Melissa Jane Strickson, went missing from her home in Darwen for the 27th time in a year and ended up at the home of a self-confessed white witch.

She travelled to the home of an associate where she stayed for two nights. And, early on the morning of October 10 she died after eating large quantities of the painkiller coProxamol.

Sally Corkhill, 41, of Sudell Road, Darwen, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to four abduction charges and two of administering a controlled drug. She was cleared of manslaughter.

Her lover, Lee Harrison, 31, also of Sudell Road, received nine months on four charges of child abduction.

Melissa’s parents believe their daughter would still be alive had she been detained for a “short, sharp shock.”

But the Area Child Protection Committee report into her death said providing accommodation for youngsters was not an answer to solving their difficulties.

As a result of what happened her father, Mr Strickson of Tockholes Road, Darwen, launched legal action against the Chief Constable of Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Council.

He claimed that, in alleged breaches of his daughter’s human rights, she died as a result of negligence on the part of both the police and the council.

However, the claim was later struck out by a judge at Preston County Court on the basis that the claim had not been served on the police and the council until after time limits had expired.

The High Court later refused an application for judicial review of the County Court stance and now the law lords, in a decision just published, but which gives no reasons for the ruling, have backed that decision.

Mr Strickson’s legal team had argued that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and that the law lords should have heard the case as it raised major issues of law of private and public importance.