The judge handed her a firm firm sentence; the detective forced to acknowledge that the victim of a shocking crime still needs to be cared for
The police officer took a bruised toddler from an abusive home. She took his heart.
On 9 May 1995 the police officer took one-year-old Jacky from her family home on Beechmount Road in the Tottenham area of north London. In a declaration to the social worker, the mother of Jacky, Margery Harris, said Jacky was wrapped in a black comforter and laid on a blanket on the floor. She called her a “little doll”. Jacky was taken to a hospital, where she showed “black bruises on her torso, hands and back”. The child had been tied to a wooden radiator by her shoelaces, the right side of her neck had been scraped, she had been forced to consume baby food, and doctors found seven “numerous” holes in her scalp, covering half her skull. She was also “deteriorating”. A Child Protection Plan was drawn up, and the police handed the child to the department for children’s services.
Harris was arrested for grievous bodily harm and child cruelty. After being released on bail she sought medical treatment for herself at a mental health unit. She was in withdrawal from heroin at the time, having succumbed to an addiction that had seized her in October 1995. Harris never showed in court, and was never compelled to give evidence. A defence lawyer told the judge that Harris’s rehabilitation was in danger of being impeded by the case, and she was granted lifelong anonymity.
The judge in that case handed Harris a firm sentence, which stayed in force at the end of her sentence. Jacky died when Harris went on hunger strike last October, and this week the hospital confirmed that the man in charge of keeping the child alive on her deathbed, and Jacky’s condition slowly deteriorated, had been a detective constable.
Detective Constable Ron Regan, who has since retired, has since been given a police misconduct hearing.
At the disciplinary hearing, it was reported that Regan had taken Jacky to hospital at an informal assessment appointment and assisted in the assessment and diagnosis of Jacky with mental health issues. Regan also assisted in the placement of Jacky in the care of the social services. On 19 August last year he was made the point of contact for, and third party witness in, Jacky’s final assessment, which he undertook while still taking part in the early stages of her rehabilitation.
When Jacky died in October last year, the quality of her care deteriorated. After Jacky’s death, Regan said that he had noticed the deterioration in Jacky’s mental health, and had also observed the scolding and punishment being used. “During that period I had Jacky on several occasions treated to a barrage of wet wipes and slop. She had ‘gone for it’ and chewed her way through a lot of them, and had been refused admission to hospital due to being kept on the baby milk diet.”
A transcript of Jacky’s final assessment – which was also in relation to an earlier assessment of Jacky by Jacky’s social worker – also reveals that Jacky had been “separated from family”. The assessment also notes that she had “many injuries and bruising”.
Speaking outside the disciplinary hearing, Regan said: “I wish to apologise unreservedly to Jacky’s family for the wrongdoing I have been found guilty of committing. I deeply regret my failure to intervene sooner in the wellbeing of this young child and have lost the honour that the profession has always held so dear.”
Neil Murphy, a solicitor representing Jacky’s family, said: “The difficulty has been in assessing exactly what he was doing, and ultimately he was found to have acted with extreme insensitivity and poor judgment.”
“There are reports that suggest he hadn’t been properly trained to work with vulnerable children, he just fell into it. If he had thought about it, he would have had a very different role with Jacky.”
Murphy said the director of public prosecutions would make an independent investigation into Jacky’s death and related cases to see if any laws had been broken.