Fiona Donnison children murders 'not predictable'

The bodies of Elise and Harry were found in holdalls in the boot of their mother's car

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No-one could have predicted a mother would murder her two young children after the relationship with her partner broke down, a review has concluded.

Fiona Donnison, 47, of Surrey, was jailed for at least 32 years for the murder of Harry, three, and Elise, two.

Their bodies were found in the boot of her car in East Sussex in 2010.

The files of all children aged under two and who died suddenly or unexpectedly in East Sussex are to be audited by health bosses.

In a statement, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: "We are in the process of undertaking a retrospective file audit of children under two years of age who have died suddenly or unexpectedly to examine whether practice is in line with the Sussex Unexplained Death Procedure.

"The retrospective audit is over the last three years."

Former City worker Donnison walked into Heathfield police station on 27 January and told officers she had killed her children.

'Class influence'

During her trial, jurors heard she smothered the children with their bedding the night before their bodies were found near the former family home.

The murders were described as "deliberate and wicked acts" by judge Mr Justice Nicol.

The serious case review, carried out by Surrey Safeguarding Children Board, said there were points when there was an opportunity to "consider more carefully the impact of the situation on the children and question the truthfulness of the information" that was being given by Donnison.

It also said authorities may have been influenced by Donnison's gender and class and they should remember that "child abuse crosses all boundaries".

Fiona Donnison Donnison was described in court as a narcissist with an overdeveloped sense of self-importance

A number of its recommendations aim to "enhance" the contact health, police and social services have with the families of young children who die suddenly.

Prosecutors had wanted Donnison to be tried for the murder of her first daughter Mia, who died of suspected cot death in 2004, but there was not enough evidence to charge her.

The report said: "The conclusion of this review has to be that although there are lessons to be learnt regarding some individual areas of practice, at no point could anyone have predicted that [Donnison] would seriously harm or kill her children.

"There is no information to suggest that such an extreme act of violence was likely."

It recommended that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust carried out an audit of the files of children under the age of two, who died suddenly or unexpectedly, and a number of agencies, including the nursery the children attended, review their child protection procedures.

East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children's Board was also asked to ensure that when a child dies unexpectedly all children living in the household are assessed.

The document recommended that Surrey Safeguarding Children Board writes to the Department for Education to request that "any future research into lessons from serious case reviews should explore the relationship between parental separation, risks to children and appropriate professional responses".

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