Life of tragic Daniel Jones could have been saved

The death of little Daniel Jones from a heroin overdose may have been avoidable if agencies involved with his family had fully acknowledged the risks he faced, it emerged today.

Daniel Jones, who died aged 23 months, and Emma Bradburn and Simon Jones, who have today been jailed over their son’s death
Daniel Jones, who died aged 23 months, and Emma Bradburn and Simon Jones, who were jailed over their son’s death

The death of little Daniel Jones from a heroin overdose may have been avoidable if agencies involved with his family had fully acknowledged the risks he faced, it emerged today.

The 23-month-old died at his home in Wolverhampton after consuming the drug.

A serious case review into his death today revealed it had not been foreseen by any of the professionals who dealt with Daniel and his parents, both of whom were recovering drug addicts.

But it found the tragedy may have been avoidable ‘had they acknowledged the full extent of the potential risks Daniel faced as a result of his parents’ drug and alcohol abuse’.

The young boy was found dead in the bed he shared with his mother Emma Bradburn and father Simon Jones, both with a criminal past, at their home in Windsor Avenue in Penn, in the early hours of May 29 last year.

The review found professionals failed to look beyond the fact Daniel was a happy and healthy little boy.

Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board's response

And because the family was considered ‘relatively affluent’ after Bradburn received a compensation award after a car crash, the report said it was possible workers had viewed them differently to other parents with drug problems. The report also said workers should have looked past the fact that the parts of the home that they saw were well presented.

While the downstairs of the property was clean and tidy, a £3,000 cannabis farm was later discovered upstairs.

‘They may have looked beyond Daniel’s apparent well-being and given more thought to what life was like from Daniel’s perspective,” the report says.

A total of 44 recommendations have now been up following his death. The serious case review reveals all professionals had been aware both parents used illicit drugs.

But there was ‘insufficient consideration given by all of the practitioners to finding out about and challenging the parents’ use of drugs in the presence of Daniel’. The report also says nobody asked where Daniel was sleeping.

“Had they done so the immediate risks to Daniel may have been identified and his death prevented,” it says.

One of the key recommendations put in place following Daniel’s death is making the whole family the focus of drug and alcohol treatment. It also calls for agencies to work together better. Alan Coe, chairman of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children’s Board, which ordered the review, said: “Everyone we spoke to, without exception, described Daniel as a happy, healthy little boy who was developing exactly as he should be.” He added: “What comes across very strongly from this serious case review is that practitioners who worked with Daniel and his family should have looked beyond his apparent well-being and understand what life was like from his perspective.”

Mr Coe added: “A lot of profesionals saw the outward signs, which were immediately positive for Daniel. This was not a child being beaten or abused or anything like that. He was a happy normal child, everyone said that. But people didn’t put in sufficient challenges. Often people who use drugs are good enough parents but you need to be careful and challenge more.

“The most obvious thing to me was nobody asked the question how do you keep your drugs safe? Just because things look alright doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge them.”

The tragedy came two weeks after social services stopped monitoring Daniel.

Jones, aged 30, admitted Daniel’s manslaughter and was jailed for six years while Bradburn, 29, pleaded guilty to causing or allowing the death of their child and was jailed for four years.