Dartmoor Haytor deaths: Care probe launched

Sarah Ransome reports from outside the family home in Paignton, where neighbours say they are ''devastated'' by the events

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An investigation has started into whether authorities could have done more to support a family after a mother, 24, died after falling 80-100ft (24-30m) from a Dartmoor tor.

Katherine Hooper and eldest son Joshua, five, died after falling at Haytor.

The body of Ms Hooper's two-year-old son Samuel was later found at her home in Dukes Close, Paignton.

Police have launched a murder investigation, but said they were not looking for anyone else.

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed the family had been the subject of a Safeguarding Partnership intervention and a serious case review would be launched.

The Safeguarding Partnership, an alliance including the council, NHS and the police, is alerted when a person may be in need of community care services because of mental illness or abuse.

'Tragic deaths'

Serious case reviews are launched when a child dies or is seriously harmed and there are signs of abuse or neglect.

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Police investigating the tragic deaths of Katherine Hooper and her two sons Josh Patterson and Sam Patterson have confirmed that the family were subject of Safeguarding Partnership Intervention prior to their untimely deaths.

Start Quote

No-one can believe it and everybody is devastated, so devastated”

End Quote Jonathan Grant Neighbour

"The investigation will now be referred to a Serious Case Review process as per national good practice."

Ms Hooper was the subject of a police search earlier in the year after she went missing with her two children in April.

The Dartmoor Rescue Group joined the search before she was found "safe and well" 24 hours later in Paignton.

Police search

On Friday, Ms Hooper's estranged partner Neil Patterson, 52, said he was "devastated" that the "three most important and cherished people in my life had been taken from me".

Katherine Hooper Katherine Hooper's two-year-old son was found dead at her Paignton home

Shortly before 12:00 BST on Friday an air ambulance, a police helicopter, park rangers and members of the Dartmoor Rescue Group went to Haytor after an incident was reported.

'Amazing little boy'

Officers found the bodies of Ms Hooper and Joshua when they arrived at the granite peak, which is more than 1,475ft (450m) above sea level.

Officers then went to the woman's home, where the body of Samuel was discovered.

A Torbay Council spokesman said: "This is a tragic incident and we will offer all the support we can to those affected.

"We are unable to make any further comment whilst a police investigation is underway."

Debbie Main, head teacher of Roselands Primary School, where Joshua was a pupil, said: "We are all extremely shocked and saddened by this tragic news.

"Joshua was an amazing little boy whose bubbly personality and huge smile brightened everyone's day."

Friends and neighbours have been leaving flowers at the family's home.

Neighbour Jonathan Grant said: "It's tragic what happened.

"No-one can believe it and everybody is devastated, so devastated."

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