Fiona Anderson case: A timeline of tragedy
08:26 22 January 2014
(C) Archant Norfolk 2013
June 2009: The midwifery services make a referral to children and young people’s services (CYPS) due to Fiona Anderson’s poor ante-natal attendance, her vulnerability, difficult family background and low mood. Soon after this referral was received by CYPS, which considered the concerns to be serious, plans were made for an initial child protection conference to be set up, followed by a legal initiative to secure care proceedings in respect of the newborn child.
July 13, 2009: A child protection plan is established for the unborn baby.
July 21, 2009: Levina Anderson is born. CYPS request the parents agree to a voluntary arrangement for Levina to be placed into care. They refused.
Early September 2009: Levina was admitted to hospital following serious concerns about her low weight, but she had gained sufficient weight to be discharged three days later.
October 2009: The family moved to stay with friends and then the paternal grandparents when they were evicted.
The Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) review of the Fiona Anderson’s children’s death focused on eight areas where lessons could be learned - coming up with the following views and actions.
1 - Working with avoidant families: The LSCB planning, policy and engagement group will review, revise and republish new practice guidance on working with hard to reach and avoidant families. The LSCB will initiate a review of the current multi agency training programme, including child protection in schools, and identify best practice and research on the impact of working with families where avoidance is a pattern of behaviour.
2 - Experience of the child: Reports on progress of an already implemented Suffolk Sign and Wellbeing programme to improve front line child risk and family protection work. LSCB will also require evidence on how well children’s experiences are being implemented in a statutory assessment framework. There will be quarterly reports on the consistency of supervision across the county.
3 - Eliminating drift in the child protection process: Progress reports on improving the effectiveness of child protection conference system and the setting up of a task force looking at stop and review process for child protection plans.
4 - Effective challenge: The LSCB planning, policy and engagement group will look at new practice guidance on resolving professional guidance and ensuring area safeguarding groups are fit for purpose and have mechanisms to support and enhance multi agency challenge.
5 - Robust management oversight: The LSCB requires a report in July from the county council that shows child protection practice conducted in the Lowestoft area continues to be consistent and appropriate to the levels of senior management.
6 - Mechanisms for professional consultation: There should be the development of a mechanism for professional consultation when there are concerns as to the mental and emotional wellbeing of a patient.
7 - Chronologies and background information: The LSCB will satisfy itself that background information on cases is included as a prompt in any assessment analysis.
8 - Effective working relationships: The county council must provide information on eliminating drift in cases, formal legal processing child protection training provision will be reviewed and seminars will be held about the case to ensure the lessons learned are incorporated into training courses.
The serious case review also detailed some of the measures that Suffolk County Council’s Children and Young Peoples Services has implemented since the deaths.
It has strengthened the monitoring arrangements for checking the frequency of supervision for all frontline staff and 1,000 staff have been or will be trained in the Suffolk Signs and Wellbeing Programme by October.
Child protection plans that have been in place for 15 months are being reviewed at monthly meetings between service and safeguarding managers.
The council undertook a review of child protection conference systems to check best practice standards and in January the council introduced quarterly meetings between the heads of corporate parenting, legal services, safeguarding and lead lawyer to maintain a strategic overview of current practice and future developments.
June 11, 2010: The couple’s second child, Addy, is born.
August 2010: It was apparent that the family were “sofa surfing”.
December 2010: Miss Anderson and children moved to an address in Lowestoft and then another home in Lowestoft by February 2011.
End of May 2011: Concerns were expressed from an anonymous referral about neglect, claiming that the children had been sleeping in a double pushchair for 13 nights and had only been fed biscuits.
Latter part of 2011: The two children are made subject to child protection plans under the category of neglect. Miss Anderson said she was very offended by the suggestions that she was not a good mother and said that she felt victimised.
Throughout 2012: Third child, Kyden, is added to the child protection plans on May 11, 2012. The end of 2012: Miss Anderson was pregnant with her fourth child.
2013: By March Mr McLelland reported that the couple were not talking and soon after Miss Anderson said they had separated.
April 14, 2013: That afternoon Mr McLelland reported that he had been at the home and had fed the children lunch and had left in the evening telling Miss Anderson that she needed to accept that their relationship was over as he was now in a relationship with another woman. At 8.05pm Mr McLelland called an ambulance claiming he had been stabbed by an unknown man in Mill Road. April 15, 2013: In the early hours a police officer spoke to Miss Anderson through the intercom. She said that she had not seen Mr McLelland for a month and officers were refused entry. At 6.20am, Miss Anderson hands her flat keys in for collection by Mr McLelland at a hostel. Just after 8.30am, Miss Anderson dies after plunging from the Battery Green multi-storey car park in Lowestoft. Just after 11am, the three children are found dead at their home. Later that day, Mr McLelland tells police that it was Miss Anderson who had stabbed him following an argument about their separation. Police launched an investigation, and the incident was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. April 17, 2013: The IPCC ruled that having assessed the referral from Suffolk Constabulary regarding the deaths of Miss Anderson and her three children, “there is nothing at this stage to indicate the police should have had foresight of the tragic events that unfolded”, and “no IPCC inquiry” was needed. CCTV is released by police, showing Miss Anderson at two locations in Lowestoft in the hours immediately before she was found dead.
April 18, 2013: The senior detective leading the investigation – Det Supt John Brocklebank – confirmed police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the “tragic deaths”.
April 19, 2013: An inquest was opened and adjourned into the deaths. At an evening vigil, lanterns are released on Lowestoft beach.
April 22, 2013: Lowestoft fell silent for a minute.
May 3, 2013: Fiona’s parents appeal to Craig McLelland to grant Miss Anderson her last wish – to be buried with her children.
June 5, 2013: A funeral for Levina, Addy and Kyden is held at the Church of St Peter and St John in Kirkley.
June 14, 2013: About 75 people turn out at St Michael’s Church in Oulton Broad to pay tribute to Miss Anderson at a service of thanksgiving for the life of Fiona, her three children and her unborn daughter, Evalie.
August 9, 2013: Inquests held into the deaths of the children determined that all three had drowned. The exact circumstances will now be the subject of full inquest hearings.
October 25, 2013: Craig McLelland speaks for the first time to condemn the “disgusting” vandals who trashed the children’s grave. He hit out after revealing that their resting place at Lowestoft Cemetery had been damaged five times within four months.
January 22, 2014: Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board publishes a serious case review after the deaths.