Sebastian Kalinowski: Could Huddersfield teenager's murder have been prevented?
A child protection review has been launched following the murder of Sebastian Kalinowski by his mother and step-father.
Sebastian, who was 15, suffered months of "torture" at the hands of Agnieszka Kalinowska and Andrzej Latoszewski before his death at his home in Huddersfield on 13 August last year.
He was repeatedly beaten and attacked with weapons and died from fatal complications caused by multiple untreated rib fractures.
Kirklees Safeguarding Children Partnership – made up of representatives from police, health and schools – confirmed it was examining the background of the case to find out if lessons could be learned.
A spokesperson said: "In line with national protocols, the partnership commissioned a Safeguarding Practice Review into this tragic case. The review process is ongoing and the outcome will be published in as timely a manner as possible."
Could anything have been done to save Sebastian?
While much of the abuse meted out on Sebastian was caught in graphic and disturbing detail on CCTV, it took place entirely behind closed doors at 301 Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
The cruelty started around January 2021 – two months after he moved to the UK from his native Poland.
Neighbours seemed to be unaware of what was happening. One described hearing occasional shouting coming from the house, and that it always seemed to be the voice of Latoszewski.
Other than the occasional greeting, the same neighbour said she had little interaction with Sebastian or his mother and step-father.
Friends of the couple told police that they were aware of Sebastian being "punished" but not to the extreme degree that would cost him his life. They saw less and less of him as time went on.
Despite his frequent assaults, Sebastian continued to attend school.
During the trial, Leeds Crown Court heard from staff, who described him as "shy" and "quiet". One teacher, Ros Djordjevic, said she saw Agnieszka Kalinowska a number of times at the school gates and that she seemed "cold and distant", but not uncaring towards her son.
Latoszewski rarely attended school, but on one occasion confronted staff at the gates, complaining without foundation that Sebastian was being "lazy".
Ms Djordjevic said that she waited until after the incident before speaking to Sebastian. She recalled that he wouldn't make eye contact with her, and that she had to lift his chin up to talk to him.
"I asked him if he felt safe and he said he was fine" she said.
There was no evidence of physical injury. She thought it strange that Sebastian did not have a key to his own house, but she couldn't "act on feelings" she said.
Matt Schofield, the school's safeguarding lead, said he had no concerns about Sebastian.
He described him as being "impeccably dressed" and said he never had complaints about him misbehaving. The teenager attended breakfast club at the school, but declined the offer of after-school football training.
There were some small indications in his written work that Sebastian was not entirely happy – he described how he didn't like to listen to his mum.
The headteacher, Andrew Fell, described Sebastian as a "model student", with a "very good sense of humour".
The attacks that would ultimately kill Sebastian escalated dramatically during the summer holidays of 2021.
'So important that no stone is left unturned'
The NSPCC said the case highlighted the need for people to raise concerns about the safety of children.
Helen Westerman, head of local campaigns, said: "In the months before they brutally cut his life short, Sebastian Kalinowski’s mother and her partner - the very people who should have been nurturing him into adulthood - subjected him to cruelty and misery.
"People will be asking how any child in our society could suffer such an appalling campaign of abuse without anyone intervening. That is why it is so important that no stone is left unturned in the review looking into the circumstances around his death.
"We would urge anyone who is worried about the safety of a child or young person to speak out and seek support whenever they have a concern."
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin echoed those setiments. She said: "I will never understand how someone could treat any child, let alone their own, with such abhorrent cruelty and contempt.
"We must do everything we can to keep children and the most vulnerable in our communities safe. If you do have any concerns about someone’s welfare, please contact the police or your local safeguarding hub, where specially trained staff can take reports, or offer help, guidance, and support."
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