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Death Diary

January 19, 2014 permalink

The mother of a child seized by British social workers kept a diary of the decline and death of her son at the hands of untrained foster parents. When Jonas James Stadden died, social services comforted the foster parents, but not the real parents. Reports from Christopher Booker and the Akashic Times are enclosed.



Child protection services: A mother’s diary records the awful death of a child 'in care’

Jonas, a child with Down's syndrome, 'visibly regressed’ and eventually died after he was handed over to foster carers

James Munby
Lord Justice Munby, recently promoted to be head of our family courts, announced again last week that he is determined to meet the tidal wave of criticism being directed at the system Photo: Brian Smith

It is four years since I began regularly reporting here on the most disturbing story I have covered in all my decades as a journalist – the way our “child protection” system has been allowed, by the secrecy imposed by the courts on all its workings, to go so horrifically off the rails. Last week, Lord Justice Munby, recently promoted to be head of our family courts, announced yet again his determination to meet the tidal wave of criticism now being directed at this system from all sides. But he is aware that opening up the courts themselves to “the glare of publicity” can only be part of an ongoing process. The system has now become so riddled with abuses at every level that to bring it back to the noble ideals it was set up to serve would require a titanic effort of reform, taking years.

Among the more obvious failings of the system are the human and professional inadequacy of too many social workers, and the miserable plight of so many of those record numbers of children they are now taking into “care”. This week, I describe the fate of one such child, as harrowing as any of the hundreds of cases I have followed over the years. I have only been able to grasp something of the full horror of this story thanks to a meticulous day-to-day diary kept by the mother, factually recording all that has been done to her family since it was blown apart as cruelly as if it had been hit by a bomb.

At this time last year, this was a happy, normal family, including four-year-old Jonas, who had Down’s syndrome, and was much loved and cared for by all the family. His parents had become expert in all aspects of looking after a Down’s child, including the care needed over sleep apnoea, a potentially life-threatening breathing problem that can need instant attention, which was why Jonas slept every night in his parents’ room.

In April, for factors I cannot report for legal reasons, and which were unconnected in any way with Jonas, the boy was removed from his family by Somerset county council social workers, even though he was still recovering from an operation. They placed him alone, miles away, with two recently recruited foster carers who, it turned out, had no experience of Down’s syndrome. Because of his “special needs”, the carers received the going rate of £900 a week for looking after the boy, plus a monthly allowance of £560, much of it free from tax.

Jonas James Stadden
Jonas, who had Down's syndrome

When the parents were allowed “contact sessions” with their son, they soon became concerned at how he was being looked after. They observed that his toilet and other medical needs were not being properly met. They were worried by how he arrived and left in a car with an Alsatian dog all over him on the back seat.

Through the summer, as the mother’s diary shows, their concerns mounted. They felt that their son was not being properly medicated for sores and sunburn. He showed small bruises. In August, they were not surprised when Somerset’s child-protection services were given an excoriatory report by Ofsted, which failed the department on all counts (nearly 40 per cent of their “child protection plans” were deemed “inadequate”, the lowest possible rating).

By October, the parents were so disturbed by the way their son was “visibly regressing”, both physically and mentally, that they applied — in vain — to a judge for the boy to be removed from his foster home. More serious ailments appeared, including a severe burn mark (dismissed by the carers as “just a bruise”).

His mother arranged a dental appointment for a severely infected tooth, which she discovered was never kept. He was also “red and blue”, with obvious breathing problems. As the weather turned colder, he was brought to contacts with no proper protective clothing. He was being left to sleep alone in his own room, unmonitored, from 5.30 in the evening until 7.00 the next morning.

By November, serious alarm bells were ringing. Jonas looked terrible, with bad conjunctivitis, and discharges from his eyes and ears. On Wednesday November 20, he was clearly so ill that the contact supervisor agreed with the father that he must see a doctor urgently, and said she had told the carers. The following day he was “too ill for contact”. The boy was never taken to the doctor.

On Sunday November 24, having heard nothing, the parents – who had not been given the carers’ number – rang another foster carer, who clearly knew that something terrible had happened but wouldn’t say what. He would only give them a confidential emergency number for social services. The parents were told they would receive a call, but were never rung back. Soon afterwards, four police arrived at the door to tell them their son was dead. He had apparently collapsed. An air ambulance had been summoned to fly him to the hospital where he had been treated before, but it was too late.

The social workers made no attempt to inform the now-grief-stricken parents of what had happened, although it emerged that they had sent a doctor to “comfort” the foster carers.

I was so struck by the calmly factual way in which the mother had kept her diary throughout these horrendous months that, last week, I made sure that a copy was given to the coroner. Even if Jonas’s death is found to have been from “natural causes”, which might normally rule out the need for an inquest, I thought it was important for the coroner to know something of the background that had led up to it.

Such are the barest outlines of a story that gives us yet another glimpse of how tragically dysfunctional too much of our “child protection” system has become. In a way, it provides a telling contrast to the fate of “Baby P”. In this case, the charge against social services was not that they failed to intervene when there was every reason for doing so, but the opposite: that, having first removed a well looked-after child, for what seems to be no very obvious reason, they then placed him in the “care” of people who appeared not to be fit to look after him properly. This raises very serious questions that must now be answered.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Vulnerable child dies after the state separates him from family

Jonas Stadden
Jonas Stadden before being taken into care

This is perhaps one of the most shocking cases of child abuse that we have ever had to cover at the Akashic Times.

Jonas Stadden was a vulnerable four year old with down’s syndrome, living in Somerset who was described as a happy-go-lucky, ‘bubbly’ child.

He had five other siblings and was the special ‘little’ brother who was loved spoiled and adored by the entire family.

But his life was to be cruelly snatched away after his mother made the mistake of asking the social services for help and advice.

The social services responded by informing the parents that they would assist the family by placing little Jonas, along with his brothers and sisters into foster care. This is despite the fact that Jonas’ parents were not under any suspicion for causing harm to their family.

But asking the social services for help because of Jonas’s condition was to land their family in big trouble. Without warning, the social services cut off the parents from their children, and it was around this time that Jonas, who was once healthy, started getting ill in foster care.

The father of the boy had previously noticed burns and bruises on Jonas’s body and informed the social services and hospital. He was also savvy enough to photograph the injuries. But his pleas fell on deaf ears. Months later, Jonas was pronounced dead.

Jonas Stadden
Jonas before he died, after being taken into care

Until this day, the family have not received any explanation whatsoever. They were not told who caused his death and the bruises went unexplained.

The case was covered up completely and did not appear in the mainstream media. The child was a down’s syndrome child but there were no serious concerns regarding his health, whilst Jonas was in care of his parents.

The family have been calling for an inquest – and yet one has failed to materialise. In the report, doctors failed to determine the cause of the burns and bruising but just said it ‘may have been accidental’.

We have obtained a copy of the letter written by Dr P Mappa who examined Jonas and included it below.

NHS logo

Musgrove Park Hospital
Consultant Dr. P. Mappa
Depl of Paediatrics
Musgrove Park Hospital

Secretary direct line (01823) 342690
Fax (01823)343777

Dictated date
17 Oct 2013
Transcribed by
JM-18 OCT 2013
646 041 5161
Hospital No

Jonas James STADDEN - 28 May 2009
Blakes Farm, Blakes Lane. Wembdon, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 2BE

This document can be used as a Child Protection/Case Conference Report

Place of Examination
Acorn ward
Date of Examination
17 October 2013 @ 1630 hr
Full consent was obtained for examination [and photography]

My name is Dr Pradeesh Mappa. Locum Consultant Paediatrician at Musgrove Park Hospital My qualifications are MB BS. MRCP.Ch. I have worked in paediatrics for 8 years and I have been working as a consultant for 2 months. I routinely examine children as part of my training and practice and routinely perform child protection medical examinations

I reviewed Jonas along with Social Worker, Jade Hill and foster mum, Margaret Beardshaw, in Acorn Ward at around 1630 hr on 17 October 2013 They were brought because of concerns regarding a red mark seen on Jonas' right forearm. I obtained a history from Margaret Beardshaw and Jade Hill. Margaret told me that Jonas's dad noticed a mark on the right forearm on tho afternoon of 18 October 2013 when Jonas' was dropped off to see his dad as part of supervised contact. Dad immediately informed children's social care. Margaret told me that she did not notice any mark on Jonas' forearm on the morning of 16 October when she got him ready for school She particularly remembers this because she had folded the sleeves of his new shirt on his right hand. I was told by Social Worker, Jade Hill, that on contact with the nursery they said there was no specific history of a fall and the fact that they had noticed Jonas meddling with his right hand when he was in nursery. I did not have any clarification as to when this happened. Jonas was subsequently taken to his GP surgery at 1500 hr on 16 October 2013. It appears that there was no specific diagnosis made and hence he was referred for further paediatric opinion

Jonas is well known to our medical team with Trisomy 21, speech and language delay and eczema. He is under the care of Dr Anna Baverstock and Dr Sarah Kelly.

I understand Jonas has got 6 siblings, 4 of whom are in care. He is currently in foster care with Margaret Burchill since April 2013.

On examination Jonas looked alert and active. He was eating crisps when I saw him. He was clean and appropriately dressed. His weight of 14.75 kg was when he came in on 9 October 2013 to see us because of croup. Systemic examination was largely unremarkable with a bit of dry skin. There was a horizontally linear red mark on his right forearm that measured at the maximum length 4 cm and 1.2 cm in width. The edges were very clear and on pressing the mark firmly we could see some discolouration underneath which makes this likely to be a bruise

There were no other injuries noted.
Jonas was reviewed by Dr Debbie Stalker, Child Protection Lead.
Dad had noticed a red mark on Jonas which could be consistent with a bruise. This could have happened because of impact with a firm implement but it is very difficult to establish the exact cause of this. It could have been accidental. It is also difficult to establish the time frame but from the history it appears to have happened between the time he left home in tho morning for nursery and saw his dad in the afternoon, being in the nursery in the time in between
The above information has been communicated and discussed by Debbie Stalker with Wendy Hesford.

I tried organising for Jonas to come back for a medical photograph on 18 October 2013 as I could not get hold of the medical photography team on the evening of the 17 October. This did not happen as by the time I spoke to the team in medical photography, Jonas was in the dental surgery. Apart from this I have not organised any planned follow up for him with regard to this bruise but would be happy to see him again if there are any concerns from either the Social Services or from the parents/foster parents.

Yours faithfully

Electronically signed by
Dr P Mappa
Locum Consultant Paediatrician

Musgrove Park is part of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

Letter in photocopy form: [1] [2].


Often the authorities will try and use underhanded techniques to justify their actions. Following the publication of this story we were contacted via the website by a mysterious person by the name of “Polly” who failed to leave legitimate contact details, making some very serious – and so far unfounded – accusations against the Stadden family. This person then asked us to publish their claims and look into it. However, when we tried to contact “Polly” who commented under the heading ”pollywallydoodle” for further information, ‘her’ contact details unsurprisingly turned out to be false. We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who may recognise this query. Or indeed, if the person themselves could get in touch again- but this time with real contact info and proof of their claims.

2 Responses to “Vulnerable child dies after the state separates him from family”

haydn stadden

I'm his father I took the pics, your almost dead right about what you have written, I'v got nothing to hide , if you need to contact me please do , & yes the authorities don't want this out they are bricking it

Jonas was the light of everyone life in the family & CSC will never fully understand just how many lives have been destroyed through there stupidity & incompetence, but were gonna try & show them

Amy Lee

Wow such an interesting story and judging by your editorial note and the reply above, obviously the PTB clearly are trying to cover up their tracks i hope you do manage to get the interview with the family involved people need to know this stuff. awful that such a lovely young child had to go like that

Source: Akashic Times

Addendum: A convenient coroner's ruling of death from natural causes eliminates the requirement for an inquest.



Taunton boy Jonas Stadden died in foster care of natural causes, post mortem tests reveal

NOTHING could have been done to save a four-year-old boy who died in foster care, a coroner has ruled today (January 21).

Post mortem tests have shown that Jonas Stadden died of natural causes.

His parents, Haydn Stadden and Sara Russell, of Taunton, had demanded answers after Jonas's death at Musgrove Park Hospital, on November 24.

Jonas, who had Down's Syndrome, had been taken into foster care outside Taunton seven months before that for reasons that cannot legally be reported.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose has issued a statement today saying: "A post mortem...revealed that Jonas died of bronchopneumonia and under part II - (illness or disease not directly attributing to the death - Down's Syndrome.

"This is of course a natural form of death, but investigations have subsequently been carried out to ascertain whether or not an earlier referral to a doctor would, in the circumstances of this case, have made any difference to the outcome - but I am advised that would not have done so."

The findings mean there will not be an inquest.

Mr Stadden said: "Jonas had pneumonia twice before and pulled through, so this is very upsetting.

Source: Somerset County Gazette

Christopher Booker responds to the outrageous ruling by the coroner.



Jonas Stadden’s parents left 'numb with grief’ as inquest is refused

The parents of a Down's syndrome boy who died in foster care are shocked that the coroner has absolved the care system of any blame

Jonas Stadden
Jonas Stadden's father saw he was so seriously ill that he pleaded for the foster carers to take his son to his GP for urgent medical treatment. This never happened. He continued merely to be dosed with paracetamol

I must update two recent horror stories about our “child protection” system. Last week I reported on the fate of Jonas Stadden, the four-year-old Down’s syndrome boy, who died while in foster care after being removed by Somerset social workers from his devoted parents (for reasons unconnected with him or them, and which I cannot disclose for legal reasons). I passed to the coroner a remarkable diary in which his mother recorded how she and his father had watched their son’s health steadily deterioriate during the months he was living with his foster carers, who had no experience of the syndrome.

A particularly disturbing feature of this story was that, four days before the boy’s death, his father saw he was so seriously ill (I have seen photographs to confirm this) that he pleaded for the foster carers to take his son to his GP for urgent medical treatment. This never happened. He continued merely to be dosed with paracetamol.

The authorities last week went into full defensive mode. First, the parents were astonished to see Somerset council claiming in the local media that, after the boy’s death, they had given the family “full support”. Then, on Tuesday, the coroner himself circulated every media outlet in the area with his finding that, since a post-mortem examination had shown the causes of Jonas’s death to be “broncho-pneumonia and Down’s syndrome”, no advice from doctors could have saved him. There was no need for an inquest, he said.

This finding so appalled the parents, who have been taking expert medical advice themselves, that they have drafted their own press statement, pointing out what they see as glaring holes in the coroner’s account.

Broncho-pneumonia, as I have been assured by a well-known medical expert, is “eminently treatable” with antibiotics, as the parents saw when they took Jonas to hospital with a previous attack of pneumonia, seeing him on the way back to health within hours.

Down’s syndrome experts insist that it only “very rarely” causes the death of young children, unless another condition intervenes.

One of the doctors, cited by the coroner as advising that nothing could have been done to save the boy, has been working closely with the social workers ever since they intervened in the case last March. On the day of Jonas’s death, according to a report, she went to “comfort” the foster carers, while the social workers merely left it to the police to tell the parents that their son was dead.

Most glaring of all to the parents is the coroner’s failure to make any mention of the father’s insistence before Jonas’s death that he needed urgent medical attention. Not surprisingly, the parents record in their statement that they are not only “numb with grief” at the death of a son they had expertly cared for all his life; they are now shocked by how perfunctorily the coroner, in their view, has absolved the “care” system of any blame for what befell their child.

On a more positive note, I can report that “Wendy”, the sane mother incarcerated in Calderdale Royal Hospital after her differences with Kirklees social workers (see my article “The lunatics have taken over the asylum in 'caring’ Britain”), was on Tuesday informed by the psychiatrist who had sectioned her as “psychotic” that she was to be released immediately. Because of “that newspaper article”, she would now have to be reassessed by “a team of independent psychiatrists”. More will need to be said about this disturbing episode in due course.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Link to Booker's previous article on "Wendy".