A CRITICAL report has underlined a series of failures after a mum drowned her seven-year-old son in a psychotic episode in which she feared neighbours were going to kill her.
Christina Acres killed her seven-year-old son George on July 23 in 2018 at their home in Rochford Way, Rochford.
Health bosses have now been criticised in a serious case review, by the Essex Safeguarding Children Board, which found the impact of the mum’s physical and mental health conditions on her son were not fully explored nor understood by support services.
The report also concluded there were missed opportunities which meant the mental health liaison team had not realised the severity of Mrs Acres’ relapse.
Her mother had raised many concerns about her mental wellbeing in the days before she killed her son, saying that she had been pacing up and down and believing the tyres on her car had been tampered with.
Mrs Acres’ mother phoned the mental health team and told them her concerns, but the usual care co-ordinator was not in, and said she was told “no one else was available”, although health services dispute this.
The review stated Essex Partnership University Trust, which oversees mental health services, should have been more proactive in arranging an urgent appointment for Mrs Acres to assess her relapse.
The review also found there were many indications that Mrs Acres’ son had been part of her “delusional belief system” – including fears her family were being “spiked” and that neighbours were trying to kill them.
The review said there was little evidence that practitioners had considered how these “odd” and “strange” comments impacted George.
Simon Wootton, Tory leader of Rochford District Council, said: “It’s just so awful. I welcome the review into what was a desperately sad situation.
“I hope that lessons can be learned going forward from the recommendations in the review.”
“Clearly the authorities have looked into it following the review, and that actions will be taken.”
The Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service – which helps children in Essex – did not provide a clear reason why a referral for George to mental health services was not accepted and that he had a “low level need of anxiety and anger”, the review said.
Anne Jones, Southend Labour councillor for children and learning, said: “We continue to work with partners to ensure that the lessons are learned and recommendations are implemented. We recognise the need for all services working with individuals to consider the impact on the whole family, and especially any children.
“We are working closely with the safeguarding partnership and particularly mental health colleagues as this is a key priority for them.”
All services should adopt a “think family” approach to cases, and better analysis is needed for when a child may become part of a parent’s delusional thinking, the report said.