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Baby killed by father 'seen by 30 health care workers'

A baby who was beaten and sexually abused before being murdered by her sadistic father had been seen by 30 health workers, a primary care trust said yesterday.

THEO USHERWOOD A baby who was beaten and sexually abused before being murdered by her sadistic father had been seen by 30 health workers, a primary care trust said yesterday.

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Jessica Randall suffered a litany of injuries at the hands of her father Andrew, including broken ribs and a fractured skull. She was just 54 days old when she died.

When she was taken to Kettering General Hospital suffering from "strange crying and twitching", the doctor who saw her failed to record his suspicions of child abuse properly in his notes.

Northamptonshire Teaching Primary Care Trust said yesterday that she had been seen by 30 health workers at the hospital and within the trust but not one had activated the child protection procedures.

Despite this, a report published yesterday by the Local Safeguarding Children Board for Northamptonshire failed to blame any individuals.

It concluded: "At no stage was Jessica Randall recognised as a child at risk and in need of protection. Consequently, those procedures which were designed to protect Jessica Randall were never activated.

"In recognising that opportunities had been missed to identify signs of abuse we must conclude that the outcome for Jessica Randall may have been different had these signs been acted on, as this would have created opportunities for assessment and involvement of other agencies by activating protective procedures."

The hospital said it had now trained its 2000 staff on how to spot cases of child abuse.

Dr Brendan O'Malley, medical director at the hospital, said: "The report was not a whitewash. We looked very carefully at it and we really considered that it was the processes that were remiss. The individuals now know very clearly from training what they need to do in the future."

Asked to clarify what the doctor who had seen Jessica days before she had died had failed to do, he added: "When Jessica was first presented to us she was twitching and the doctor felt she was probably fitting.

"He felt there were several possibilities for the diagnosis behind this and he set a range of investigations in motion.

"He felt that his examinations negated his suspicions (of child abuse). But there was no extensive account in his notes of why he thought there was the possibility of abuse.

"We already had the processes running. The system was there but the problem was that it had not been triggered and the lesson that we have learned is that we need to raise people's awareness of what has to trigger off referral to making a child at risk."

Andrew Randall, 33, was jailed for life at Northampton Crown Court in March last year following Jessica's death in November 2005.

The court heard that Randall had probably sexually abused her.

Jailing Randall, of Kettering, Judge Charles Wide, QC, said: "I am quite satisfied there was a sexual element, coupled and inextricably bound up with the violence. The seriousness of this case is so exceptionally high that a sentence of life imprisonment is appropriate with a whole life order."

Jessica's mother Sharon Park had extensive treatment for her mental health and had been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Natalie Cronin, head of policy and public affairs at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "The number of babies killed at the hands of their parents or carers has not reduced for 30 years. It is everyone's responsibility to be vigilant to signs of abuse and report any concerns they have."

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