Mystery remains over death of ten-year-old girl found in bedroom, says judge

Josh Salisbury (09 December, 2020)

Southwark social services had alleged the girl was killed by a family member

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A mystery remains in the case of a ten-year-old girl found dead in her bedroom, a top judge has said.

Social services at Southwark Council had brought a case to the High Court over the death of the youngster in 2016, alleging she was killed by either her parents or siblings.

They argued that the family had “engaged in obfuscation and the erection of a wall of silence to impede and distract the investigation,” into the youngster’s death.

Pathologists told the court that she had died of strangulation, but also had genital injuries.

Social services had sought for the judge, Sir Mark Hedley, to make a finding on how the girl had died to help them make decisions about the care of other children in the family.

But in a judgement published at the end of November, Sir Mark concluded that Southwark had failed to prove its case to the required standard.

He said he had “no clear answer to give” into how the girl died. A police investigation into the girl’s death was inconclusive, and nobody was charged in relation to her death.

Sir Mark criticised the police’s investigation into the case, saying officers “lost opportunities for proper investigation.”

This was the third time civil court judges have been asked to make findings about the cause of the girl’s death.

Appeal judges had overturned earlier judgements and ordered fresh hearings. Judges had also criticised previously the police inquiry.

Sir Mark explained his decision in a ruling published at the end of November after a private trial staged partly in London and partly over Zoom.

The deceased girl and her family cannot be identified in media reporting of the case for legal reasons.

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