Dwelaniyah Robinson and Maya Chappell: 'Missed opportunities' to help families of murdered toddlers

Tom Barton reports on the findings of a safeguarding review into the deaths of two toddlers in County Durham.

A safeguarding review has found there were “critical moments” where authorities could have helped the families of two toddlers who were murdered within three months of each other in County Durham.

Dwelaniyah Robinson was three years old when he was killed by his mother Christina Robinson who violently shook him in November 2022 at his home in Ushaw Moor. Robinson is due to be sentenced for his murder later this month.

Two-year-old Maya Chappell died in September 2022 after being assaulted by her mother's partner Michael Daymond at her home in Shotton Colliery.

Daymond was given a life sentence for murder while Dana Carr, Maya's mother, was jailed for nine years after being found guilty of allowing the death of a child.

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, published on Wednesday 8 May, has made nine recommendations after finding there were “a number of opportunities where additional support and services could have been offered” to both children’s families.

The report stated that neither family was involved in statutory child protection services, while it said Dwelaniyah was “for part of his life invisible to services”.

Dave Ashton, chair of the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership, which commissioned the review, said: “We are committed to learning from the circumstances of each case.”

He added: "The learning arising from the review has been shared across the partnership and we are working together to implement the recommendations.”

Christina Robinson was found guilty of her son's murder following a trial. Credit: Durham Police

Police contact

The review found two instances where the children's fathers had raised concerns with police but those were not passed on to social services.

Prior to Dwelaniyah’s murder, his father told police in Stockton-on-Tees that he had been assaulted by his wife, but did not make a formal complaint.

The report said that “there is no information to suggest a referral was made to children's services” but said that “a proactive referral … would have been helpful here,” noting that “there was certainly enough here to be curious about”.

Meanwhile Maya’s father raised concerns with Durham County Council and police about Daymond after he started living with Maya and Dana Carr.

He asked police whether Daymond had any history of domestic violence or child sex offences, under so-called Claire’s Law and Sarah’s Law.

According to the report, “police followed this up and contacted [Maya's] mother by telephone who subsequently reported she was no longer in a relationship with the male in question, therefore the matter was closed".

That decision “to close the request, based solely on [the] mother’s self-report and no follow-up face-to-face visit, showed a limited understanding” of the nature of domestic violence and child abuse.

Michael Daymond and Dana Carr were jailed over the death of two-year-old Maya Chappell. Credit: Durham Police

Staffing issues

The report also found that there was a lack of continuity in health visiting services that could have allowed the families to access help.

In Dwelaniyah’s case, the report notes: “There were nine health visitors and two early years practitioners involved with the family inevitably complicating the transfer of information and potentially impacting on continuity of care."

It says “identified local and national pressures in the recruitment and retention of health visiting staff” are ”likely to have impacted on the continuity of care and timeliness of information sharing”.

‘Things need to improve’

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, where Maya Chappell lived, told ITV News that he welcomed “the admission that things need to improve and that they're going to learn from this experience”.

But, he said: "[I'm] not convinced that the procedures are in place to prevent a tragedy like this happening again.

"I want some assurances that this learning is deep seated and that the processes and procedures will be changed to try and ensure that no other family suffers the trauma that this poor little girl suffered.”

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