Review into Ashton girl killed by brother finds failings

THE MOTHER of an Ashton girl killed by her brother believes a number of services failed to understand the cause of his violent behaviour.

And a review into practices surrounding Amanda Selby have found numerous opportunities to treat Matthew were missed, including children’s social care (CSC) closing the family’s case in 2018.

The 15-year-old was choked to death in a caravan after she and her sibling started arguing at the Ty Mawr Holiday Park in Conwy, north Wales in July 2021.

The Court of Appeal increased the time Selby – who is autistic and has intermittent explosive disorder, which causes aggressive outbursts – must serve in prison to life. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility in December.

Now a review of the events leading up to Amanda’s death by the Tameside Safeguarding Children Partnership has identified a number of issues.

Amanda Selby

It found the root causes included a failure to assess the impact of poor parental mental health on parent’s ability to parent and protect their children and a lack of information sharing following key events in the last three years.

And Amada’s mother felt that mainly practitioners from services had failed to understand how to respond to Selby’s behaviours.

In a report, she described how a response of punishment was often made, with expulsion from school at a young age and contacting the police being specifically mentioned.

She believed he was perceived as a naughty child rather than one with autism who became overwhelmed in situations and needed to have adults around him who had skills to help him overcome anxiety brought on by his distress.

And there was a reluctance to work with him until his diagnosis of autism was made.

It adds: “Mum also believed a change in approach of practitioners to people with autism would help to overcome some of the frustrations which they experience.

“Services addressed managing the risk to the family through the accepted routes of multi-agency policy and procedure to manage domestic abuse rather than regarding behaviour as his inability to control emotions and hitting out as part of his autism diagnosis.

“The model of perpetrator/victim as in adult relationships was used to address the violence within the home, which mum believed did not improve the situation in which the family were living.

“After the separation of the family into two households, a decision was made to close the case for the family.

“Mum believed that this action meant that any available help and support was no longer offered. The family were still in contact with each other so the risk of harm did not go away.

“Mum also believed that at this time there are no services in Tameside to offer to those with a diagnosis of autism.

“Diagnosis is now being made but there does not appear to be any support available for individuals. Mum is supportive of developments in Tameside to address availability of therapeutic services for people with autism.”

The report revealed the family was known to various agencies since 2008 and that between 2009 and 2013, agencies recorded and shared concerns with CSC in respect of the son’s escalating violent and aggressive behaviours.

An incident was referred to them in 2012 reporting he had assaulted a member of staff at school and that he had become increasingly intimidating and aggressive at home, the target being his mother.

And a Child in Need (CIN) plan escalated to Child Protection Case Conference in April 2015 following an incident whereby Amanda was stabbed with scissors.

Yet despite practitioners suspecting Amanda was experiencing physical violence from her brother, on one occasion sustaining a ‘significant’ injury from him, there was no further action taken.

And the report adds: “It it is unclear why further action was not instigated without the need for direct disclosure.”

In its recommendations, the report makes clear many agencies need to make alterations including Children’s Social Care providing evidence of robust procedures when closing cases, ensuring clear step processes are followed and that there is clear identification of the services continuing to support the child and family.

It also says commissioners should provide assurance on plans to improve waiting lists for neuro developmental pathways timescale and update so that children do no wait too long for support and diagnosis.

Greater Manchester Police was also told it should provide assurance there are robust systems for recording, identifying and referring child protection concerns.

It also said the Tameside Domestic Abuse Strategy needs to include and identify pathways to recognise and respond to domestic abuse when children are perpetrators.

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