Murdered woman's daughter was 'ignored' for six weeks after telling her teacher: 'My mum isn't at home''
By Daily Mail Reporter (UK)
Last updated at 7:13 PM on 19th November 2008
A council has launched a probe into social services after a murdered woman's child was 'ignored' for more than a month after telling her teachers 'My mum isn't at home'.
The eight-year-old girl's teacher reported the child's fears to social workers 'several times', but her mum's body was not found until six weeks after her murder.
It can also be revealed that a trainee social worker was the first to act on the girl's fears and that the worker PHONED murderer Andre Genestin, who said 'there was not a problem'.
Horror: Andre Genestin was found guilty of murdering his wife Catherine
Brighton and Hove City Council launched the inquiry into why the child was ignored for so long after Genestin was jailed for life for the murder of his wife Catherine earlier this year.
Genestin, 48, was found guilty of murdering his 38-year-old wife and storing her body in a plastic car roof box in the garden of the family home in Brighton for six weeks after beating her to death with a mallet in May 2007.
He was jailed for life in June this year.
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Lewes Crown Court heard how the couple's daughter repeatedly raised concerns about her mother's disappearance with one of her teachers.
Her mum's body was eventually found in the car roof box six weeks after the murder after the eight-year-old had a nightmare about her mum's body falling out of a cupboard and told her primary school teacher about it.
Christine Laing QC told the jury in June: 'The first person to doubt his (Andre Genestin's) account was his daughter.
'She had heard her mum and dad arguing and when she got up the next day her mum was not there.
'She did all she could to get other adults to look into the situation, speaking to her teachers to get them to do something.'
When her class teacher failed to take action, she invented a story that she was being bullied to get the headmistress's attention.
The head told social services and the following month police found Mrs Genestin's body in the box her husband had bought days after her death.
The daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, later told police she had gone into the cupboard where her mother was initially kept about two weeks after she went missing because she thought there would be a body in there.
Miss Laing said: 'She spoke of a dream about opening a cupboard door and her mum's body falling out.
'She thought her mum must be dead because otherwise she would have been missing her and would have come back for her.'
And today it can be revealed that Brighton and Hove City Council have launched an inquiry into the way social services handled reports of a distressed child.
The inquiry comes after a report revealed that the child's teacher had made 'several call's to social services asking them to intervene and visit the Genestin home, telling them the child repeatedly told her she was 'worried about her mother'.
Initially, a trainee at the social services department phoned Genestin, who assured them there was not a problem.
The council has confirmed it is carrying out the review into its handling of the case.
A report on the review's results, which is being written by independent consultants, is to be presented to the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in December.
An executive summary containing the key issues arising from the case and the recommendations made to the authority will be made public.
Di Smith, Brighton and Hove City Council's director of children's services, said: 'It is not appropriate at this stage therefore to share the findings of the review before the due process of reporting has been made.'
Alex Knutson, a Brighton and Hove representative for Unison, spoke in defence of the city's social workers.
He said: 'Someone has to make those decisions, and like everyone, social workers don't get it right every time, but I have say I've never known a social worker who isn't dedicated to getting it right every time.'
However, campaigners for improved child protection policies said the case highlighted poor communication between professionals working with children.
A spokesperson for the Victoria Climbie Foundation said: 'It's shocking, quite shocking.
'Again, here we have (a teacher) raising grave concerns about a child who may have been in danger, yet no-one reacted.'