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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Safeguarding chief pledges full review after death of teenager who was 'invisible to authorities'

Written by Dave Higgens

A "full, independent review" is under way into what contact agencies had with Jordan Burling before his death after a jury heard he was "invisible to the authorities".

Speaking outside Leeds Crown Court, James Rogers, chairman of the Safer Leeds executive, read a statement on behalf of the Safer Leeds executive, Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership and Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board.

He said: "When we became aware of Jordan's shocking death, we commissioned a full, independent joint review which is currently under way to identify and examine any lessons that need to be learned to try and ensure this could not happen again in the future.

"We will therefore not be able to comment further until we have the outcome of that review."

The jury in the trial of Mr Burling's mother, sister and grandmother heard how the family had minimal contact with council and other agencies.

The judge, Mr Justice Spencer, noted that a Leeds City Council housing officer had knocked on the door seven days before Mr Burling's death for a routine inspection but his mother, Dawn Cranston, did not answer, telling the jury she had been in the toilet and did not hear.

The judge said: "Had you heard the knock on the door on June 23, just a week before he died, when an officer from the housing department of Leeds City Council called to carry out the annual tenancy inspection, the ultimate tragedy of Jordan's death might have been averted."

The court heard that Mr Burling attended his local primary school, where he defecated on the floor, had head lice and his teeth were in a very poor state.

But he was "home schooled" from the age of 12, when his mother pulled him out of school due to bullying.

"From the time Jordan was taken out of school, he became increasingly anonymous. Education and social services played little part in his life," prosecutor Nicholas Lumley QC told the jury.

The judge noted that Mr Burling's mother did her best to provide for him with the home schooling and he could read and write.

The jury was told that Mr Burling had not been seen by the family doctor for years before he died.

And he had not seen a dentist since 2009, when 16 of his teeth were treated, including four extractions.

Mr Lumley said: "He may have been invisible to the authorities but not so to these defendants."

The court heard that Dawn Cranston was found to be suffering from a dissociative disorder after her arrest, which the judge summarised as "depersonalisation and derealisation so that you became mentally detached from the reality of events around you, cut off from an unwanted reality".

He said this was likely to have been triggered by traumas including bullying at school and the prolonged abuse and harassment her family received when her home was targeted by youths and pelted with eggs and stones.

The judge said this harassment contributed to her father's suicide in 2006.

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