Kieron Barley killing: Doctors failed to spot signs of child abuse

Doctors failed to detect a 22-month-old boy had suffered a broken back at the hands of his stepfather – just weeks before he brutally killed him.

Louise Barley, Craig Lewis and little Kieron Barley
Louise Barley, Craig Lewis and little Kieron Barley

Craig Lewis, 32, killed Kieron Barley after flying into a rage because the tot, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was late learning to walk.

Yesterday he was jailed for eight years for manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court. Kieron’s mother Louise Barley, aged, 26, got 15 months after admitting child cruelty. It has also emerged that before the child’s death, doctors at Birmingham Children’s Hospital failed to detect Kieron had a broken back caused by Lewis who threw him to the ground.

The court heard how medics allowed Barley to take Kieron home after she lied about how he was injured, saying she saw him fall over when in fact she was out shopping at the time.

Despite being taken to hospital on two more occasions, doctors failed to spot Kieron’s broken spine and internal injuries and discharged him with possible gastroenteritis. On June 19, 2011, Lewis brutally attacked the child again because he was angry about the messy state of their home in Denshaw Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham.

Lewis dialled 999 claiming the youngster collapsed and he was rushed to hospital with severe bleeding on the brain, but died three days later. Prosecutor Rachel Brand QC told the court Lewis told doctors Kieron had fallen and ‘gone all floppy’ when he first dialled 999 on May 28, 2011.

She said: “Ambulance workers found Kieron agitated and screaming the place down and he was taken to Birmingham Children’s hospital.

“Dr Lewis found he had abrasions of the left shoulder, but found no tenderness and no fracture on an X-ray. He wanted to keep Kieron in overnight but was told by Louise Barley that another sibling was being looked after at home by a relative and that they had to go to work. This was a lie.”

Kieron returned to hospital on both May 29 and 30 after Barley complained that he was screaming and vomiting and was diagnosed with possible gastroenteritis.

Ms Brand added: “Examinations after death found fractures to two vertebrae and a subdural haemorrhage and a retina bleed. The fractures were around four weeks old.”

The role of the hospital in the case will now be subject of a serious case review.

A Birmingham Children’s Hospital spokesperson said: "It is incredibly sad that this little boy’s life was cut so short. Our thoughts are with his loved ones who must be going through such a difficult time.

“The safety of our patients is our top priority and as part of our safeguarding responsibilities, we completed a full internal review which will form part of the serious case review, due to be published by Birmingham Safeguarding Children’s Board soon.

“As part of our standard emergency department procedures, on 28 May 2011, we conducted a full physical assessment of Kieron and his minor injuries were consistent with the story of a fall given by his mum and partner. To rule out any fractures, an x-ray of his shoulder was taken, which came back clear.

“As Kieron was physically mobile at the time there was no evidence to suggest to doctors that he was suffering from spinal damage. Based on his physical presentation, and the information given by his mum and partner, we are satisfied that hospital staff acted entirely appropriately."