North West Wales

'No grounds' to remove Phillip and Izaak Stevens before killings

Philip and Izaak Stevens
Image caption Philip and Izaak Stevens were found suffocated in a bedroom at their home

Little could have been done to save the lives of two children killed by their mother, a serious case review has concluded.

Phillip Stevens, five, and two-year-old Izaak were suffocated by their mother Melanie, before she hanged herself.

The family were found at Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd in December last year.

The report added that "arguably" the only way to have saved the children was to have removed them from their mother but there were no grounds to do so.

An inquest into the deaths was held in September and a coroner recorded that the two children were unlawfully killed by their pregnant mother who then took her own life.

The report into the deaths is published by the Gwynedd and Anglesey Local Safeguarding Children Board.

'Considerable stress'

The multi-agency group has responsibility to oversee how services and professionals cooperate and work together to safeguard children.

An 18-page summary of the case lists a complex family set-up and the involvement of various agencies over number of years.

Key family members are listed as adult 1 (Ms Stevens) adult 2 (her ex-husband) and adult 3 (the mother's ex-partner and Izaak's father).

Ms Stevens also had three other children, apart from Phillip and Izaak.

The report notes that records show that towards the end of 2010 Ms Stevens was under "considerable stress", including because of "contentious" custody issues.

Image caption Melanie Stevens and her two young sons were found dead in a bedroom at their home

"What is striking about this case is the complexity of the family relationships and the absence of any substantial child protection concerns that might have led to help being provided to Ms Stevens," the report concludes.

"Although concerns were raised about Phillip and Izaak, all by other family members, investigations and assessments carried out found those concerns to be unsubstantiated."

It states that although Izaak's father believed the agencies involved failed to respond appropriately to the risks he and others identified "it is difficult to know what could have been done to prevent the deaths of the children and their mother.

"Arguably, the only way of protecting Phillip and Izaak would have been to remove them from the care of their mother and there were never any grounds to do so."

Gwynedd and Anglesey local safeguarding children board chairman, Iwan Trefor Jones, said; "Whilst the report does not identify any further steps which could have been taken to prevent the deaths... the independent author identifies a number of recommendations all of which are being addressed by the relevant agencies."

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