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Troubling questions raised in the Hamzah Khan and Keanu Williams cases

Keanu Williams was beaten to death by his mother, and Hamzah Khan was starved to death. Photo: Police Handout/ ITV News

There are two key differences in the tragic cases of the two little boys killed by those who were supposed to care for them.

In the case of Keanu Williams there was engagement by the professionals - but admitted failures to see the signs of neglect which lead to his death.

In the case of Hamzah Khan there appears to have been a failure to engage at all.

Amanda Hutton was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for 15 years today. Credit: Police Handout

Much, much more will be understood when the case review is published. Currently, all that is known is based on evidence revealed in court and it is the lack of engagement that marks this case. Amanda Hutton lived as a virtual recluse with her children at the end in squalid conditions unable to cope, or care for her family.

It is hard to contemplate a system that did not flag up the potential risks Amanda Hutton posed to her children given the number of times (the court heard) people visited the house with concerns.

These included health visitors and teachers of the other children after Amanda Hutton forgot to pick them up from school. The police visited eight times too because of incidents of domestic violence.

Family members also visited and failed to gain entry.

Hamzah's father claims he warned police of Hamzah's deteriorating condition, although he stands accused of not doing enough to warn social services himself.

Neighbours described Amanda Hutton as a woman who they had once liked but now pitied.

One became upset remembering how proudly she'd seen Amanda Hutton walk with her children to and from school when she had been well. It appears her deterioration was rapid.

Another said she herself felt guilty now - admitting she wished she had known and "offered help" to stop the tragedy - as a neighbour and decent citizen. She told me she mourned the loss of community that had made such a terrible secret stay undiscovered for so long.

For the media it is very difficult to showcase the excellent work social workers do protecting children in difficult circumstances. It all happens under the radar.

There are many troubling questions about how this could have happened, and not all of them for the professionals.

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