Murdered foster carer had no ‘suitable experience’

34-year old foster carer Dawn Mckenzie was stabbed to death at her home in Hamilton. Picture: Hemedia
34-year old foster carer Dawn Mckenzie was stabbed to death at her home in Hamilton. Picture: Hemedia
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A SHERIFF has been urged to rule that a teenager who stabbed his foster mother to death should never have been placed in her care

Dawn McKenzie, 34, was killed in her home in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, in June 2011 by a 13-year-old boy placed with her and her husband Bryan. The boy later told how voices in his head told him to get a knife from the kitchen drawer of the house and ‘hurt Dawn’.

He was jailed for seven years in 2012 after admitting culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The final day of a fatal accident inquiry into Dawn’s death heard closing submissions from Crown Office procurator fiscal depute Carrie Macfarlane.

She asked Sheriff David Bicket to find that Dawn did not have enough experience and had not been given sufficient training to deal with the boy. She also said a blanket age range approval system operated by the fostering agency which the McKenzies dealt with had contributed to Dawn’s death.The former nursery worker had expressed a preference for a younger child but was approved to foster children up to 16-years-old.

Miss Macfarlane told a hearing at Hamilton Sheriff Court: “It would only be proper for the Crown to offer its most sincere condolences to the family of Dawn MacKenzie.

“I will summarise what the Crown wishes you to make formal findings on following the evidence.

“We wish you make formal findings on the decision to place the child with the family.

“The Crown wishes you to make findings into the suitability to place an adolescent child with a family who did not have suitable experience with children of that age and whether they should have been recommended to take the placement.

“We ask you to find that the blanket age range approval system that was in place was a defective system which attributed to the death of Dawn MacKenzie.

“There are issues which have been raised which you may want to cover and these include the support offered to foster carers and the management of social media throughout placements.

“I formally thank the witnesses for their assistance and to the other parties involved for their cooperation throughout this inquiry.”

Kirstie MacLean, a senior social worker who produced an expert report into the case for the inquiry, earlier said the fostering agency Foster Care Associates should not have sent the boy to the McKenzies because of his age and background. The couple were first time foster carers and did not have any children of their own.

The inquiry had earlier heard that the boy had been grounded and had his computer confiscated in the days leading up to the killing after it was discovered he had been in contact with his birth mother online.

Sheriff Bicket expressed his sympathy to Mrs McKenzie’s family before closing the inquiry to consider his determination.

He said: “I realise a fatal accident inquiry is a harrowing experience for those who have suffered a bereavement and I express my sympathy to the family.

“I have carried out a number of these inquiries over the years and I can honestly say nobody had a bad word to say about Dawn MacKenzie and I hope that is of some comfort to you.

“I will issue my determination in writing, I will try and be as quick as I can but this requires a great deal of consideration.”