Glasgow & West Scotland

Foster carer killing: Social worker saw 'no indication' boy was violent

Dawn McKenzie

The social worker of a boy who stabbed his foster mother to death has told a fatal accident inquiry there was "no indication" the child was violent.

Stephen Lorimer was asked if there was anything he had observed or been told that gave him cause for concern.

Mr Lorimer said: "There was no mental health diagnosis and no indication he was going to be violent to anyone."

Dawn McKenzie, 34, was stabbed by the 13-year-old in her home in Hamilton in 2011.

The boy had been in the care of Mrs McKenzie and her husband for about seven months at the time of the attack.

Ideal placement

Mr Lorimer told the inquiry that he had been delighted at the boy being placed with the McKenzies.

He said he would have liked to be more involved in the process of sourcing the placement, but told the inquiry that the couple were an ideal placement for the boy.

Mr Lorimer was also questioned about a previous comment made by Dawn McKenzie's husband Bryan to the inquiry that Mr Lorimer's attitude to the placement was lackadaisical.

The social worker replied: "My response is that I am a conscientious worker. I take my role very seriously. All I ever wanted was the best outcome [for the boy]."

He broke down in tears as he told the inquiry that he could not have done anything differently.

In his evidence, Mr Lorimer also said a recommendation that foster carers should have a lockable knife drawer or cabinet was something you would not normally see in family life.

He told the inquiry that if carers needed to lock away knives to keep themselves safe, then there would be concerns about the safety of that placement. Mr Lorimer said a child with that sort of issue should not be in a foster placement.

'Aggressive parents'

The inquiry also heard from the social worker's team leader, Magdalene Sewell.

She told the inquiry that Mr Lorimer was a very unassuming but reliable and competent worker.

Ms Sewell said she and Mr Lorimer took on the boy's case after a previous social worker had to give it up after being threatened by the partner of the boy's mother.

She told the inquiry how the boy's mother and her partner had shown aggression in front of their children. She described how on one occasion the boy's mother kicked a door so hard she broke the locks on it and on another hit her head against a fence.

The inquiry continues.

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