I have taken the decision to rename this page in honour of a little boy whose death in January 1945 shocked people in the United Kingdom and around the world and instigated changes to ensure protection and better care for our most vulnerable children. His suffering and tragic death opened the eyes of a society that had for too long been closed to the issue of child abuse and neglect.
Dennis O’Neill was just 12 years old when he died lying beside his little brother, Terence, in a cold, stark bedroom on a bed of straw in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. The brothers had been living for six months with foster parents, Reginald and Esther Gough, on an isolated farm in Hope, Shropshire and had been subjected to extreme cruelty, starvation and neglect. The little boys endured vicious beatings every day until one final night when a particularly savage beating left Dennis’s abused and weakened body unable to cope any longer.
In memory of Dennis’s death and suffering and following the heartbreaking testimony of his ten year old brother Terence during the Gough’s trial, the Children’s Act of 1948 was implemented which laid down improved and more effective protocols in the fostering system and addressed the failings that were responsible for Dennis and Terence’s experience. Sadly, despite the changes made, children are still dying of abuse in the UK almost 70 years later. Council child welfare authorities are still getting it wrong. Since the Monkton Inquiry into Dennis’s death, over 70 more Inquiries have been held since 1945. We owe it to Dennis, and all those who have suffered the same fate in the years since, to be aware of a child who may be suffering. Today, children in foster care are better assured of a loving and secure foster home and less likely to suffer the horrors that Dennis and Terence O’Neill endured, but if we close our eyes and forget our duty to them it could so easily happen again.
Maria Colwell, John Smith ,Victoria Climbe, Baby Peter, Daniel Pelka….their names remind us that the system is still failing children nearly 70 years after Dennis died. It has to stop. It is up to all of us to keep Dennis O’Neill’s legacy safe – in his name and in the name of all children.
Dennis O’Neill – Born: 3rd March 1932, Newport, Wales – Died: 9th January 1945, Bank Farm, Minsterley, Shropshire, England. Cause: heart failure following repeated blows to the chest. Contributary factors: starvation; untreated chest infection; long-term systematic physical abuse and neglect by foster parents Reginald and Esther Gough. Inadequate monitoring of child by social services; failure to follow-up recommendation of immediate removal from foster home. Aged 12 years.
‘Toddler’ Holdsworth – Born: 1954, England – Died: 1956, England. Cause: prolonged physical abuse by mother. Aged 2 years.
Michael Buckingham – Born: April 1965, England – Died: 16 January 1967. Cause: Prolonged physical abuse by father. Aged 2 years.
Maria Colwell – Born: 26 March 1965 Whitehawk, England – Died: 6 January 1973, Brighton, England. Cause: internal injuries, brain damage, starvation through prolonged physical abuse by stepfather. Aged 7 years.
John Smith – Born: May, 1995 – Died: December 24, 1999, Fishersgate, West Sussex. Cause: Prolonged physical abuse by foster parents Simon and Michelle McWilliam. Failure of Brighton and Hove Council social workers to remove child. Aged: 4 years.
Victoria Adjo Climbie – Born: 2 November 1991, Ivory Coast, Africa – Died: 25 February, 2000, London, England. Cause: Hypothermia, multiple injuries caused by prolonged neglect, starvation and severe abuse inflicted by great-aunt Marie Kouao and boyfriend Carl Manning. Failed by multiple Council, medical and Government welfare social service authorities including NSPCC. Aged: 8 years.
Peter Connelly – Born: 1st March 2006, London UK – Died: 3 August 2007, London UK. Cause: Prolonged Abuse/Murder (mother and two males). Age – 17 months.
Dean Shillingsworth – 25 Feb 2005 Blacktown, NSW, Australia – 11 Oct 2007 Ambarvale, NSW, Australia. Cause: Murder (mother). Age – 2 years old.
John Erik Ashfield – 1987 – 5th August 1993, Nowra NSW, Australia, Cause: Prolonged assault/Murder (mother and boyfriend). Age – six years old.
Deraye Lewis – Born: 2001, England – Died: January 1st, 2005, Osborne Street, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, England. Cause: multiple internal injuries inflicted by Nicholas Halling, boyfriend of mother Donna Lewis. Catalogue of failures made by Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire social service agencies to monitor Deraye’s domestic environment. Aged: 3 years.
Violet Mullen – Born: 2008 – Died: 12th January 2010, Huddersfield Rd Oldham, England UK. Aged 15 months. Cause: Murder (mother and boyfriend)
Kyra Ishaq – 2001- May 2008, Leyton Road, Handsworth, Birmingham. Cause: Starvation, dehydration, physical abuse by mother Angela Gordon and stepfather Jumaid Abuhamza. Age – 7 years old.
Joshua Jones – Born: 2006 – Died: 06/11/2007, Runcorn, Cheshire. Cause: prolonged child abuse/beaten to death by Wayne Davenport (boyfriend of mother Nichola Bowman). Aged 2 years.
Ryan Lovell-Hancox – Born:25/10/2005 – Died: 24/12/2008, Wolverhampton Hospital. Cause: physical abuse/murder. Aged 3 years old.
Alfie Goddard – Born: March 2008 – Died: May 2008, Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Cause: abuse/murder (shaken and thrown to the ground by father Craig Goddard). Age – 3 months.
Amy Howson – Born: 23/08/2006 – Died: 23/12/2007, Nelson Road Doncaster. Cause: prolonged abuse/broken back inflicted by father James Howson. Age – 16 months.
Abbie Jamieson – Born: October 2007 – Died: 8/02/2008, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, Scotland. Cause: child abuse/murder by father Craig Jamieson. Aged 4 months.
Sanam Navsarka – Born: 2007 , England – Died: 8/05/2009, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Cause: child abuse/multiple broken bones and internal injuries inflicted by mother Zahbeena Navsarka and stepfather Subhan Anwar. Aged 2 years.
Charlotte Avenall – Born: 2001, England – Died: 12/09/2009, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Cause: accidental hanging/lack of parental care and supervision. Aged 8 years.
Hamzah Khan – Born: 2007, England – Died: 2009, Bradford, England – body discovered September 2011. Aged 4 years old when body discovered after death had occurred at age 2. Cause: Starvation.
Declan Hainey – Born: April 2008, Scotland – Died: Body discovered March 2010, death assumed to have occurred between July 2009 and March 2010. Aged 23 months. Paisley, Scotland. Cause: Abuse and neglect by mother, Kimberley Hainey.
Keanu Williams – Born: 2008, Torbay, Devon – died: January 9, 2011, Ward End, Birmingham. Cause: Child abuse, multiple injuries inflicted by mother Rebecca Shuttleworth. Failure of Torbay Council to implement protection plan. Aged: 2 years.
Rio Smedley – Born: 2010, England – Died: April 2012, Breightmet, Bolton, England. Cause: Extensive injuries inflicted by Daniel Rigby, mother’s boyfriend.Aged 2.
Daniel Pelka Born: 15 July 2007, England – Died: 3rd March 2012 Coventry, England. Cause: Head injury, starvation, prolonged physical abuse by mother Magdalena Åuczak and stepfather Mariusz Krachek. Multiple failings by school staff and social services in monitoring child’s condition and domestic environment. Aged 4.
Mikaeel Kular – Born: 2009, Edinburgh, Scotland – Died: 14 January, 2013, Edinburgh, Scotland. Cause: Physical abuse; extensive internal injuries inflicted by mother Rosdeep Adekoya. Failures by Fife and Edinburgh social care services in monitoring the child. Aged 3.
Chelsey Essex – Born: October 2006, Rotherham, England – Died: January 2007, Maltby, England. Cause: Massive cardiac arrest resulting from stomach infection. Injuries noted: 13 broken ribs, infected nappy rash and tears to upper and lower lips of mouth inflicted whilst under care of unnamed foster parents. Aged 12 weeks. (No charges to date brought against foster parents Mr and Mrs ‘A’; couple have been de-registered as foster carers).
Kasey Hambleton – Born: 2012, Blackpool, England – Died: 12th April, 2014, Alder Hey, England. Cause: fatal multiple non-accidental internal injuries. Conor Gibson 23 (mother’s boyfriend) charged with murder, mother 23 (unnamed) bailed on suspicion of murder. Aged 2 years.
Alfie Sullock – Born: July 2013, Caerphilly, south Wales – Died: August 16, 2013, Caerphilly, south Wales. Cause: blunt force head injuries inflicted by mother’s boyfriend Michael Pearce, 33. Aged 6 weeks.
Callum Wilson – Born: April 23 2010, Windsor, England – Died: March 20, 2011, Oxford, England. Cause: Multiple fractures and internal injuries including fatal brain damage after child was removed from foster carer and returned to mother. Mother, Emma Wilson, charged with murder. Aged 11 months.
Roxie Jo-Anne Archer– Born: April 2009, England – Died: 10 March, 2012, Ashton-Under-Lyne, England. Cause: Fatal head and brain injuries inflicted by mother’s boyfriend Ben Raftery, 21. Aged 23 months.
Scott McMillan – Born: 2011, USA – Died: November 6th, 2014, Pennsylvania ,USA. Cause: Multiple injuries to head and body inflicted through systematic abuse by mother Jillian Tate 31, and boyfriend Gary Lee Fellenbaum, 33. Aged 3 years.Copyright © 2007-2015 Cultured Views. All rights reserved.