Report on twisted killing of Sheffield teens to say whether lessons could be learned
The findings of a serious case review into the circumstances surrounding the death of two teenage boys killed by their parents in Sheffield will be published today, Friday, 28 August.
In November Sarah Barrass, 36, and her half brother Brandon Machin, 40, with whom she was in a secret sexual relationship, were sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 35 years for the murders of their sons Blake, 14, and Tristan, 13 on 24 May 2019.
The couple were also sentenced for conspiracy to murder all six of their children and for their initial attempt to murder Blake and Tristan, and two more of their children.
Social services became involved with the family in November 2018, after Blake was accused of sexually assaulting another child. Then, in May 2019, similar allegations were made about Tristan, including one on the night before the murders, with Barrass informed the incident would be reported to the police the following day.
Despite initially working well with social services, Barrass was told on 22 May 2019 the family would go from the status of ‘child in need’ to ‘child in protection,’ and face greater scrutiny, including questions about the paternity of her children and sexual abuse.
Speaking after the sentencing, John Macilwraith, executive director of people services at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is such a tragic and, we hope, isolated case that it is vital to examine every aspect in order to establish what can be learned to inform the development of future professional practice.
"We have many hundreds of families in Sheffield who are cared for by our children’s services but there are always new lessons to learn, so we need to understand, alongside all partners in the city, as much as we can about why and how these tragic events happened, as much as it is ever possible to understand such a terrible act.”
A serious case review takes place when there has been a death of a child or young person and abuse or neglect is known or suspected, or where there has been a serious injury and there are concerns about interagency working. The purpose is to establish what lessons can be learnt from a case.