Burnley mother charged with murder after baby found in bin with multiple stab wounds

A Burnley mother, has been arrested and charged with the murder of her baby who was found inside a kitchen bin at a flat.

The baby, named only as “Infant Tunstill”, was found dead in a kitchen bin at a flat in Burnley, Lancashire, on 16th January.  A post mortem conducted at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital ruled the cause of death as multiple stab wounds.

Michael Singleton, East Lancashire Coroner, adjourned the mention hearing until the 2nd March 2017. It is also anticipating the inquest will be suspended due to crown court proceedings. The mother is due to appear before Preston Crown Court on the 7th April 2017.

Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston, of Lancashire Police, said: “Following a complex investigation and after consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service we have today charged the mother of the newborn baby with murder.”

There is no indication that Children’s Social Care were involved in this case prior to the death of the baby. However, it is yet another (extreme) example of the types of day to day work that we within the profession will face on a day to day basis. We deal with people in their time of need or when they are at breaking point. One of our fundamental job roles is to support those in need – those (like the baby) that don’t have a voice or are unable to safeguard or protect themselves.

Such horrific news story reminds me of when I was required to assist a Local Authority in supporting and managing a number of Social Worker’s within a Children’s Service (due to previous poor management). Unfortunately, prior to my arrival, the team had suffered two baby deaths. Whilst it was concluded that the Social Workers’ intervention was of an excellent standard, it did not stop them questioning their ability as professionals. They felt a sense of guilt, as if they had contributed or were in some way responsible for their untimely deaths.  For a short while, these Social Workers were unable to focus on any of the good they were achieving in relation to their other 30 odd cases.

This is where the need for Self-Care and Peer Support are essential ingredients within the Social Work/Care environment. Particularly, if we as professionals are to ‘move on’ from such emotive and terrible life events. So, to all my Social Care and Social Work professionals, remember, you’re doing an incredible job! Yes, it will always be challenging, stressful and sometimes unbearable – but I would like to think that if Social Workers were involved then there might have been hope for “Infant Tunstill”.

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