A mother whose children died in a house fire ‘laughed in the faces’ of child protection officers.
Natalie Unitt refuses to accept that her children, Olly Unitt, 3, Tilly, 4, Keegan, 6, Riley, 8, and another child, were neglected even though they had at least 50 injuries, bruises or marks, in a 17-month period.
The mother-of-five and her boyfriend Chris Moulton were arrested after four children died in a house fire believed to be caused by a discarded cigarette on February 5, 2019.
Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board and Stoke-on-Trent reviewed the case and noted how the children were living in ‘utter chaos.’
The review also stated that the kids had suffered physical, medical, and emotional neglect for many years.
However, their mother doesn’t want to accept that her children were neglected.
“Interestingly the mother told the report that she ‘laughed in their faces’ when professionals mentioned the word neglect,” review author Joanna Nicolas wrote.
“She does not accept to this day that the children were neglected. She told the report author that she had had five children and therefore she knew how to parent.
“It was more a case of the mother knowing what to say to professionals, rather than accepting there were concerns and wanting to change.
“No tool was used to gather the evidence in a way that the frontline professionals could see what was actually happening well that might have helped professionals understand the mother did not think there was a problem in the first place.”
It was in 2017 when the Unitt family had first come to the attention of Staffordshire County Council but only a little progress was made.
“One of the greatest concerns about the children was their lack of speech. Professionals described the home as silent, despite there being five children in it,” the report said.
During an appointment with a doctor, one of the kids just “grunted and pointed at things” while another child showed no response in front of a social worker.
Reports also revealed that the children had signs of development delayed and were even referred for speech and language therapy.
Ms. Nicolas added: “There is considerable evidence that the children were not given sufficient stimulation, supervision or guidance.”
It later emerged that the mother and her boyfriend had been smoking in bed at the night of the incident and a discarded cigarette is thought to have caused the fire.
Four children died in their beds from fire inhalation and smoke.
“My hope is the children died quite peacefully in their beds,” South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh said.
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