Wales

'Concerns' raised before Dylan Seabridge died from scurvy

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Media captionDylan Seabridge: "Invisible boy" who died from scurvy in Wales

Concerns were raised about a boy more than a year before he died of scurvy, BBC Wales has learned.

Dylan Seabridge, eight, died in Pembrokeshire in 2011 but nothing has been published about whether agencies could have helped to prevent his death.

The inquest into his death heard that he had no contact with the authorities in the seven years before he died.

Pembrokeshire council said a Child Practice Review on the case would be published soon.

A draft serious case review leaked to BBC Wales, which was written in 2013, concluded that the laws on home education in Wales needed to be strengthened as a matter of urgency.

The inquest into the death of Dylan, from Dolau in Eglwyswrw, Pembrokeshire, heard that scurvy was an easily preventable and treatable disease.

The inquest heard his parents Glynn and Julie Seabridge had told police they did not believe he had scurvy and thought he was suffering from growing pains.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue its case of neglect against parents Glynn and Julie Seabridge

They were charged with neglect but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped those charges in 2014.

No serious case review has been published since Dylan's death four years ago, but an unpublished draft report has been leaked to BBC Wales.

It said Dylan was educated at home and "invisible" to the authorities, though his parents dispute that.

The author of the report said she knew so little about Dylan that it was "impossible for her to even draw a pen picture of him".

'Rare case'

Although the family lived in Pembrokeshire, Mrs Seabridge worked in neighbouring Ceredigion before her work was terminated.

During employment tribunal proceedings, a lawyer and a head teacher contacted social services after they became aware Mrs Seabridge suffered from mental ill health and her child was home educated.

Education officials visited the Seabridges but they had no power to see Dylan.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales Dr Sally Holland said: "This is a rare case, but I don't think Dylan Seabridge is the only child under the radar in Britain so we should be learning what we can from this case and of course as quickly as possible."

What is scurvy?

  • Scurvy is now a rare condition caused by having too little vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in your diet.
  • Without the vitamin, the body cannot make collagen - which is essential for your skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
  • Symptoms include feeling tired all the time, lack of appetite, joint pain, shortness of breath and easily bruised skin.
  • It affects people who do not have a healthy diet including those on fad diets, the homeless, the elderly and those with eating disorders.
  • Fruits including oranges, lemons and strawberries are good sources of vitamins C along with broccoli, cabbage and asparagus.

The Welsh government said it would publish new non-statutory guidance soon on home education.

Fiona Nicholson, a home education consultant, said the law was "adequate as it is".

"Changes aren't needed to safeguard children. If you turn it into policing, people will put up barriers," she said.

Pembrokeshire council said the serious case review was suspended pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

System changes meant a different type of review was under way which would be published soon, it added.

Ceredigion council said it provided information for the report promptly and said current regulations do not give authorities enough power to monitor home educated children.

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