An 11-week-old baby died with “injuries akin to Baby P”, a new documentary has revealed, as police warn that lockdown will have seen other children “fall through the net”.
Newborn Teddie Mitchell was found to have a “large number of severe fractures and a catastrophic head injury” when he died in November 2019. His father, Kane Mitchell, was eventually charged and found guilty of his murder.
Detective Inspector Lucy Thompson from Cambridgeshire Police led the investigation into his death, which was filmed as part of a new two-part episode of 24 Hours in Police Custody due to air on Monday night.
DI Thompson said she felt “physically sick” when she was first made aware of the extent of baby Teddie’s injuries.
“Knowing that the child had been subjected to such significant incidents of violence throughout a short life was absolutely horrifying to know, by the people who were supposed to be caring and protecting,” DI Thompson said.
When officers first arrived on the scene at Teddie’s family home in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, his parents Lucci Smith, 30, and Mitchell, 31, were distraught and told officers that they suspected their young son had meningitis.
‘Huge lack of social workers’
But after Teddie died 10 days later, Cambridgeshire Police launched a murder investigation and officers ordered medical tests which discovered that he had severe injuries, including 17 rib fractures, fractures to his right collarbone and a fatal skull fracture.
While the murder took place prior to lockdown, DI Thompson, a homicide detective with a background in child protection, said that restrictions have had a significant impact on child protection efforts.
“The routine mechanisms that would be in place to identify children who are suffering just haven’t been there,” she said.
“So there will be children who have fallen through the net during Covid because they haven’t been going to school, there’s a huge lack of social workers and health visitors – just general social exposure.”
In 2021, the cases of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and 16-month-old Star Hobson prompted national outcry.
Both children suffered months of abuse in lockdown at the hands of their parents and their partners. Social services failed to act on both occasions despite numerous referrals and warning signs.
Ms Smith, Teddie’s mother, was handed a two-year community order for cruelty to a child.
24 Hours in Police Custody is due to be broadcast at 9pm on Monday and Tuesday on Channel 4.