Schoolgirl deaths: families can finally see report

Flowers left for 'Sarah Clerkson.
Flowers left for 'Sarah Clerkson.
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A REPORT launched after the deaths of two schoolgirls while in care has been completed.

A Serious Case Review (SCR) was launched by Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) after Sarah Clerkson died on December 7, 2013, followed by Danielle Formosa 10 days later.

The 14-year-olds had been placed in care by Sunderland authorities.

A review into the girls’ inquests, which is being handled as a single inquiry by the County Durham coroner’s office, heard the SCR is due to be shown to the families.

They will then be given the chance to respond to its content and offer their views to the board.

The Echo understands the document will be published after the conclusion of the inquest.

This would allow the coroner to make recommendations and observations before it is released.

County Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle has previously criticised the board for delays to the report, and the amount of time which has lapsed since the deaths of the teenagers.

It had been due to be issued in October, and then December, with the board telling Mr Tweddle its inquiries through an external organisation had taken longer than expected, and the way the report was being put together will allow it to better reflect on “learning opportunities”.

At a review hearing in Crook, assistant coroner Crispen Oliver said the girls’ deaths were “particularly tragic”.

He added: “Obviously, these are sensitive and difficult inquiries.”

The next review date was set for Monday, April 27.

Colin Morris, chairman of the SSCB, said: “As chairman of the Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board I fully appreciate that the delays have been far from satisfactory and I am very mindful of the impact this has on family and friends connected with these young people.

“Every effort is being made to complete the reviews as quickly as possible so that lessons can be learnt from these very sad deaths.

“The draft reports have now been submitted to the coroner and will be finalised following the conclusion of the coroner’s proceedings.

“This will ensure that any lessons that come out of the coroner’s verdict can be taken on board and responded to as part of the reviews.”

Sarah, who was living in foster care, died at the University Hospital of North Durham, after she was found hanged in a bedroom after a party in Spennymoor.

Danielle, a pupil at St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’s Academy, was found dead at a care home in Consett on December 17.

In June 2014, Dean Palmer, then 40, was jailed for four and a half years at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting engaging in sexual activity in the presence of Danielle and causing or inciting her to engage in sexual activity.