'He should never have been left in charge of a baby': Family of John Ward call for action after he burned child's face in hot bath
THE family of a man who caused horrendous burns to a baby's face are calling for the authorities to do more to protect vulnerable children.
It comes as Hull City Council confirmed it is considering reviewing its procedures following the shocking case.
John Ward and his girlfriend Kelly Horner were both jailed after he submerged her four-month-old baby girl's face in burning-hot bath water.
Health visitors and social services are understood to have had concerns about the baby in the months before it happened and had failed to gain access to see her on 12 separate occasions.
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Prominent Hull businessman Charlie Spencer, who is Ward's adoptive uncle, said: "John has special needs and should never have been left in charge of a baby."
The Mail can reveal the authorities failed to gain access to the Bransholme house the couple were living in, despite warning signs such as 20 bags of rubbish and hundreds of soiled nappies piled high outside.
Ward's relatives are calling for social services, health officials and the police to work together to force entry to properties at an earlier stage when concerns have been raised about youngsters.
Mr Spencer, founder and chief executive of the Spencer Group, said: "It is very concerning that the authorities tried to gain access to see the child and were unable to.
"They should have contacted the police to force entry at an earlier stage and maybe they could have been given help and intervention and this terrible incident could have been avoided.
"There needs to be early intervention in cases like this to protect the welfare of the children and offer parenting skills and help to those responsible for the children.
"What happened here could have been avoided had the authorities gained access to the house from the start and their procedures need to be reviewed to ensure children in the future are protected."
The authorities grew concerned about the child when Horner failed to register the birth or register her with a doctor.
Health workers repeatedly visited the house and left messages on Horner's phone, asking her to give them access to the property so they could check on their welfare.
Horner failed to answer the door or return the phone calls.
Ward, who was her boyfriend but not the baby's natural father, had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs with Horner prior to burning the baby's face.
Ward claims he woke in the afternoon and placed the child in the bath with hot running water as he went to make a cup of tea and returned to find her severely burnt.
He pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and child cruelty and was jailed for eight and a half years.
Horner was jailed for 21 months for child neglect after the court heard she failed to take her baby to hospital until five hours after discovering the horrific injuries.
Doctors also discovered bite marks on the baby's arms and fractures to her legs.
Her injuries prompted concerned hospital staff to call police and social services.
Paul Dyson, independent chair of Hull's safeguarding children board, said: "The board takes extremely seriously cases which result in injuries of this kind to children. The board is aware of this case and, now that the criminal case is concluding, will consider whether any further learning is required."
Jon Plant, city safeguarding children manager, said: "The child was not previously on an 'at risk' register or child protection plan with Hull children's services.
"Following the incident, immediate steps were taken by professionals to remove the child and ensure their long-term wellbeing and to ensure that those responsible for causing the injuries were brought to justice."