Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Blake Fowler inquest: Stepfather and mother 'guilty of disgraceful failure'

The stepfather and mother of a boy who died from a severe head injury were guilty of an "appalling and disgraceful failure", an inquest has heard.

An open verdict was recorded into the death of Blake Fowler, seven, who died in Southampton in December 2011.

It happened while he was in the care of his stepfather Peter Meek, who had been investigated by police and social services.

He was also on bail for assaulting Blake's mother Sarah Spacagna.

The couple had secretly moved in together breaching his bail terms, the court was told.

Flakes of paint

The inquest, which took place on Monday in Southampton, heard Blake was at Mr Meek's grandparents' house at the time of the incident.

In police interviews, Mr Meek, an amateur boxer, said he was preparing lunch in the kitchen while Blake was play-fighting in the lounge, the court was told.

He told detectives he heard a loud bang and Blake came into the room crying and upset saying he had been hit, and fell off the sofa banging his head.

The court heard he said Blake told him he felt dizzy, began to wobble and lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital but died the following day.

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said Blake suffered a serious brain injury but there was no evidence it was the result of a blow rather than a fall.

He also said there were flakes of white paint or Artex in Blake's hair but he could not say how they got there.

'Plethora of lies'

The court heard police and social services had investigated two previous suspicious incidents involving Blake.

In 2008, he suffered crush injuries to his genitals but no further action was taken.

When he was one he was scalded but the court was told it was "unclear" how it had happened.

In recording his verdict Coroner Keith Wiseman said Mr Meek and Ms Spacagna had fallen "woefully short" as parents.

The court heard the case had uncovered a "plethora of lies", and that Ms Spacagna and Mr Meek were guilty of an "appalling and disgraceful failure to prioritise the needs of Blake" and it was difficult to know exactly how he died.

Southampton City Council said it was unable to say whether Blake was on the at risk register at the time of the incident because it could influence an ongoing independent serious case review into his death.

This is due to be published next summer.

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