Solicitor's error handed Northiam schoolgirl's address to killer father
The address of schoolgirl Mary Shipstone, who was murdered on her doorstep by her estranged father, was accidentally sent to him by her mother's solicitor, it has emerged.
Seven-year-old Mary was shot dead by Yasser Alromisse on the doorstep of her home in Northiam on September 11, 2014. Alromisse then turned the gun on himself.
The Serious Case Review revealled that five months earlier, Mary’s mother, Lyndsey Shipstone, reported to police that her solicitor had inadvertently revealed the address of her safe house to Alromisse in legal papers.
Lyndsey and Mary had stayed in a refuge before moving to Northiam, as Alromisse had been inflicting domestic violence on Mary’s mother since 2008.
The review said that on three occassions there ‘is evidence or a strong suspicion that details of the mother’s addresses or identity were disclosed to the father inadvertently or in error, by a bank, the Child Support Agency and by mother’s own solicitor.’
But the report continues: “Although there is no evidence that these actions led the father to know where the family was living, they might have.
“At the same time the review has identified that, given the existence of social media and very powerful search engines, it is increasingly difficult for families fleeing violence to rely on their whereabouts remaining secret.
“It cannot therefore provide the sole basis for safety planning.
“The father was a man clearly with intent to find the child and although nothing was discovered that meant that the family’s safety was compromised, all agencies must ensure robust systems are in place.”
The review concluded that ‘no professional working with the family could have prevented him acting as he did.’
A series of recommendations were made in the review, including seeking assurances from agencies that systems were in place surrounding information about vulnerable people that should not be revealed.
A spokesman for the East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board said: “This was a tragic case and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of this young girl who lost her life in such a violent way.
“In such cases it is usual practice for an LSCB to review all the circumstances to see if more could have been done by the agencies involved to prevent it from happening and for professionals to learn lessons that might improve child protection and safeguarding processes.
“After a thorough independent review, the LSCB concluded, as did the investigating police officers, that the father planned and carried out the killing in a secretive way, using the internet and a range of covert methods to trace the family and obtain the means to carry out the murder.
“There is no evidence that any professional involved with the family prior to these tragic events was aware of this activity. Based on the review, the LSCB concludes that no professional could have prevented him doing what he did.
“The LSCB has also found that professionals did respond diligently to reports of domestic violence, which were all taken seriously and responded to appropriately.
“As is always the case, the review has, however, found some areas where improvements could be made, particularly around how information is shared when families move areas, and we are working with all agencies involved to implement a small number of recommendations to improve practice.”
The NSPCC said it was ‘unacceptable’ that such information should fall into the wrong hands.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “This is a shocking and tragic case and it is important lessons are learnt so history does not repeat itself.
“We welcome a recommendation in the report to seek assurances from agencies that their systems are improved to make sure information about vulnerable people is secure.
“It is unacceptable that information about children should slip into the wrong hands.
“Everyone who is involved with vulnerable people has a duty to ensure they are protected at all times.”
* Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.ryeandbattleobserver.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RyeandBattleObserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @RyeObs
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Rye and Battle Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.