Social worker fond of boy who killed foster carer

Dawn McKenzie, who was killed by her 13-year-old foster child. Picture: PA

Dawn McKenzie, who was killed by her 13-year-old foster child. Picture: PA

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A SOCIAL worker allocated to a boy in the years before he killed his foster carer has told an inquiry he was fond of the child.

Scott McCabe described the youngster, when he was of primary school age, as a “nice boy” who was engaging and good at expressing his feelings.

Dawn McKenzie, 34, was stabbed by the child whom she and her husband Bryan were looking after at their home in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, in June 2011.

The boy, who was 13 at the time of the death, was subsequently detained for seven years after admitting culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A fatal accident inquiry into the circumstances of her death is being held in the GLO Centre in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.

Today, the inquiry before Sheriff David Bicket heard there was a long-standing relationship between the local authority social work services in Glasgow and the boy’s birth family.

Mr McCabe, 47, said he was the boy’s social worker from September 2008 to June 2009, but had dealings with him and his birth family stretching back to 2006, when the child was eight.

Asked about his impressions of the youngster at that stage, Mr McCabe said: “A very nice boy, very engaging and very good at expressing his feelings.

“I was very fond of him.”

The boy could be “needy”, he added, but the social worker said he appeared to respond well to one-to-one attention.

The inquiry heard of numerous dealings between social workers and the boy’s birth family until he and his siblings were removed from the home and placed in alternative accommodation in 2008.

Mr McCabe told the inquiry the family home was “dirty and unhygienic” with “piles of rubbish” in it.

“We didn’t think that the children had beds, but we weren’t being allowed into the bedrooms to see,” he said.

Mr McCabe told the inquiry about two foster placements for the boy and his siblings during the time he worked with him.

Contact time between the children and their birth mother and her partner at that time could be “chaotic”, he told the inquiry.

“Our view was that it was distressing for the children, causing them further harm,” Mr McCabe said.

He said he and colleagues argued for, and were ultimately successful in achieving, a reduction in contact time between the children and their mother and her partner to once a fortnight.

He also said he stopped being the boy’s allocated social worker in 2009 after receiving threats from the birth mother’s partner.

The inquiry has previously heard that Mrs McKenzie was approved as a foster carer in October 2010 and within weeks was asked to take the boy as her first placement.

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