Horrific conditions of Bonser’s home

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The horrific conditions in which Hannah Bonser spent her childhood are related in graphic detail by Prof Cantrill’s report.

Bonser’s parents had their own health problems and also lived an ‘alternative’ lifestyle which as time wore on amounted to neglect of Bonser and her brother.

The council’s children’s services first became aware of the family when Bonser was eight years old, after reports from the family GP, her grandmother and an anonymous family friend all expressing concern.

Socal workers found their house in ‘a disgusting state’, the parents, who were Mormons, had significant health problems and the children were violent and aggressive.

Bonser was home educated, the children were eating out all the time, with sacks of rotting food in the house and some of the rooms were ‘full of dead cats and excreta’.

The children did not have clean clothes and when Bonser attended school for the first time at the age of 10 she was alienated from other children because of her personal hygiene and was bullied.

Bonser’s mother died when she was 10 and the deterioration of her father’s health meant she was taken into council care.

Her father died in 2001 when she was 16 and her behaviour was said to have deteriorated. After that she left the council’s care system.

Prof Cantrill says: “What is clear is that from 2000 the situation for her began to worsen. Based on available records the quality of practice at the time was inadequate.

“There were a number of missed opportunities to safeguard and protect her against neglect.

“The parents’ poor co-operation, deception and combination of plausible and disengaged behaviours added to the focus being on keeping their co-operation and losing sight of the children.

“It would not have been possible at that time to predict or prevent the incident based on the analysis of the service interventions and involvement with her as a child,” Prof Cantrill concluded.

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