"I was horrified", says father of foster girl "sent to live with pervert"
The father of a young girl who was sent to live with a foster carer who was later accused of downloading indecent images of children says he was "horrified" when he found out.
The girl's father told The Post he was "angry, upset and horrified" when he finally found out what had happened.
ThisisBristol reported yesterday that Bristol City Council let the four-year-old girl stay with a foster carer for two weeks after learning he was suspected of downloading indecent pictures of children.
The shocking case was first heard at a Family Proceedings Court session three months ago – but the council took legal action to prevent it being reported.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Magistrates were told the girl, who cannot be identified, had been living with foster carers for three months when police informed social services the man was suspected of accessing images of child abuse.
On the same day police raised their concerns – May 14 last year – the youngster had told her dad and a council "contact worker" that she had been strangled by another child at the home. Despite this, she remained in the house and it was actually her father who reported the alleged assault to police, who then told social services. Despite having red marks on her neck, the girl was not examined by a doctor.
Social workers waited six days before deciding what to do and another week before removing the girl and another child from the house.
Social worker Sherilyn Pritchard told magistrates there was "not enough information to justify immediate removal" of the girl at that stage. Her manager Trevor Barnes was also at the hearing and was aware of the girl's case.
The city council went to the civil court to ban the press reporting the details of the case or naming the social workers involved after Bristol magistrates criticised the council's lack of action.
That reporting ban has now been lifted, in part, by Mr Justice Baker at the High Court in London, who ruled it was in the public interest for the story to be published.
The foster dad, who we cannot name for legal reasons, reportedly committed suicide soon after the police began investigating him.
Magistrates who heard the case said the council had not followed child protection procedures following the alleged assault.
In their judgment, they said: "At the time of the allegation of physical abuse, the local authority were already aware of other allegations relating to child pornography at the address.
"Despite this, and having parental responsibility through the interim care order, they failed to remove A (the girl) for a period of 14 days."
They added that "with hindsight, Ms Pritchard acknowledged the risk of sexual, physical and emotional harm to A" during that time.
"These matters concern us greatly and we believe should be thoroughly and forensically investigated and reviewed in an independent forum."
The girl's father said last night: "When I found out the reason she was removed I felt angry, upset – I was a mixture of emotions. I was horrified and was almost numb.
"I can't believe something like this could happen – they should have taken her away straight away, not waited two weeks."
The father said he first had "serious concerns" after hearing that his daughter was regularly hiding from the male foster carer.
But he said his complaints were "passed off as me being awkward".
A city council spokeswoman said: "We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. As soon as it was confirmed the foster father was the prime suspect around the download of indecent images, we took immediate action, with the removal of children from the foster carers' home.
"In response to the magistrates' comments, we are undertaking a management review and have brought in an independent expert from a national children's charity to assist us. "
No disciplinary action is being taken against Ms Pritchard, or any other social workers involved in the case, but the council stressed it had conducted an internal review.
Referring to the reporting ban the council pushed for, she added: "We have only ever sought the judgement of the court on this case to protect the interests of children."
The girl, now five, is in a new foster home.