- By Kevin Shoesmith
- BBC news
A two-year-old boy and his father were found dead at a house in Skegness, prompting a “rapid review”.
Bronson Battersby was found alone in his home with his 60-year-old father, Kenneth Battersby, on January 9.
It is thought the toddler, who was described as “the light in his father’s eyes”, starved to death after Mr Battersby suffered a heart attack.
The family were known to childcare services and Lincolnshire County Council launched an investigation.
Children’s services chief executive, Heather Sandy, described the deaths as “devastating”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “It was such a tragedy that Kenneth died of a heart attack.”
“He was home alone with Bronson and that meant there was no one left to take care of Bronson, and sadly because of that, Bronson also passed away.”
The Lincoln Coroner’s Office said the investigation has not yet been opened as it “awaits further information from the pathologist”.
Ms. Sandy said a review of the participation of many different agencies will be carried out.
She added: “This is absolutely devastating for us and much more devastating for the family, and our thoughts are with them.”
Ms Sandy confirmed a social worker “contacted” Mr Battersby on December 27 and then arranged a home visit on January 2.
‘Opportunity to become a good father’
“The social worker went to Bronson and Kenneth’s home and there was no response to knocking on the door, so she looked at other addresses to try to locate Bronson, and when she didn’t, she talk to your manager and contact the police,” she said.
Ms Sandy added the social worker made another attempt on January 4 and because she could not enter the country legally, she informed the landlady after a third unsuccessful attempt on January 9.
Ms Sandy told BBC Look North that the rapid review process by the various agencies would take around 15 days to complete and the results would be passed to a national panel to make decisions on next steps. .
She said in cases “like this” they usually visit monthly.
“So we typically visit families on a monthly basis or less, so in terms of the timeline from the 4th to the 9th, that will be a subject that will be reviewed quickly,” she said.
“It’s really important that we fully understand what happened, so an expedited review will allow all those agencies to come together and look at what happened.”
She added: “No one foresaw that Kenneth would get sick and die and so there really is a lot of tragedy in this case.”
Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman described the event as a tragedy.
“It appears social services were contacted multiple times – they struggled to keep in touch and the system didn’t seem to understand the potential seriousness of the situation,” he said.
“That’s something we have to try to understand.”
A neighbor described Bronson as a “beautiful, happy boy” and added “his dad was his best friend”.
Maria Clifton-Plaice, Mr Battersby’s landlady, said she was “heartbroken” and described finding his body as one of the “worst things”. [days] of my life”.
She said she didn’t know Bronson very well but added: “I know he came and started staying with Kenny recently and he’s probably the light in his dad’s eyes.
“I think he’s Kenny’s chance to be a good father.”
At the scene
By Crispin Rolfe, BBC Look North
Prince Alfred Avenue is located just off Skegness seafront, a short distance from attractions and back to the east coast resort’s Tower Gardens.
Neighbors are still coming to terms with the deaths and recall how emergency services arrived, in ever greater numbers, after the discovery of the bodies.
Many people have spoken fondly of Kenneth, describing father and son as “two peas in a pod”.
There is unease here at this news. A family friend told me that “the boy was loved, his needs were met and this was just a series of unfortunate events.”
Meanwhile, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer told Prime Minister’s Questions that he was “saddened” to hear that father and son had died in “heartbreaking circumstances”.
Lincolnshire Police said they were not treating the deaths as suspicious but had referred them to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), adding this was standard procedure in such cases.
- December 27 A social worker “contacted” Mr Battersby and a home visit was arranged.
- January 2nd The social worker arrived but there was no response at the door. She tried to find Bronson at other addresses but couldn’t find him, so she spoke to her manager and the police.
- January 4 A second attempt at a home visit is made. Again, no response. The social worker alerted the police.
- January 9 A third attempt was made and the social worker alerted Mr. Battersby’s landlady. The goal was achieved and the bodies of both father and son were found.
- January 15 Lincolnshire County Council notified the national Child Safeguarding Practices Review Panel of a serious incident that met the criteria for expedited review.
- January 17 Lincolnshire County Council confirmed a review was underway and Lincolnshire Police said it had turned to the IOPC.
Source: Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Police
The rapid review will involve the council, police force and any relevant health organisations.
It must be completed within 15 working days of the National Child Safeguarding Practices Review Panel being notified of a serious incident that meets the criteria – in this case, 2 February.
It will then go to the national council, which has 15 working days to decide on the next steps.
These include whether a national assessment is appropriate, whether more information is needed to support decision-making, or whether they agree and support the findings and recommendations of participating partners. Quick assessment or not?