A serious case review in into the deaths of toddler Auden Slack, his mother Rachael Slack and father Andrew Cairns revealed the tragic events of June 2, 2010, ‘could not have been predicted’.
But the 76 page document published today highlighted there was need for serious improvement in the way police, social services and health providers dealt with those at risk of domestic violence at the time of the Holbrook stabbings.
The review, conducted by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB) was launched in 2010 and has already seen several measures adopted by all the agencies who had direct contact with Marehay man Mr Cairns in the run up to June 2, of that year.
He had been receiving treatment for depression with Derbyshire Mental Health Services Trust for over two years before he travelled to his ex-partner’s house in Well Yard and stabbed her to death along with Auden, who was just 23 months old, before taking his own life. He had also received home support from the Amber Trust and had come into contact with police on a number of occasions.
Chair of the DSCB Christine Cassell, said: “This report found the deaths could not have been prevented based on the information and means available to agencies involved with the families at the time.
“It also found this tragedy could not have been predicted and that incidents of murder and suicide involving a family with a child are very rare.”
The release of the review had been delayed until this week so as not to jepordise the result of the jury inquest into the three deaths over September and October.
The lengthy report consistently criticised the method in which Andrew Cairns was risk assessed by the various agencies that dealt with him - in terms of the level of harm he could have posed to Rachael and Auden.
There were also sweeping criticisms of the way those agencies shared information about former golf pro Mr Cairns.
In particular it notes how Mr Cairns’ GP at Ivy Grove Surgery in Ripley, would have been unaware that Mr Cairns had been detained by police under the Mental Health Act only days earlier, when Mr Cairns visited him on the morning of June 2, 2010.
On that occasion Mr Cairns told his GP: “This could be the most important day of your career.” he later carried out the killings.
On another occasion it notes how an Amber Trust support worker, having learned that Andrew Cairns had made threats to kill Rachael Slack the previous week, did not communicate this to her manager.
The case review states: “ She (the support worker) took the view that (Andrew Cairns’) threats had been made in an attempt to manipulate (Rachael Slack) on the issue of contact (with Auden). The circumstances should have been discussed with the worker’s manager and advice taken on how to respond. It would have been appropriate to include contact with Derbyshire Mental Health Services and preferably Children’s Social Care in this.”
It made six recommendations to tighten up procedures including that “all agencies working with adults with mental health problems consistently share information with child health professionals and work with them in assessment and planning.”
Mrs Cassell said the DCSB has received assurances form all the agencies involved that they “followed through on all the recommendations,” by the end of 2011, adding that the report was made with the benefit of hindsight and did not seek to attribute blame.
For more on the story grab a copy of the Ripley and Heanor News, out on Thursday, February 6.