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"She would still be alive today" - relative slams Kingston Council 'negligence'
Kingston Council social workers failed to help a mother hammered to death by her jealous lover in front of their daughter and then altered records, a leaked independent report has revealed.
Charito “Che” Cruz, 37, was twice referred to Kingston Council by the NSPCC before her murder in September 2011, amid concerns for her daughter.
Her partner Asad Niazi's murder trial heard he showed the couple's daughter pornography after a break-up in their relationship.
Abigail Pickering, a relative of Charito Cruz’s who looked after Ms Cruz’s daughter for 10 months following her death, said: “It is appalling. She would still be alive if they had dealt with it properly.
“I knew she had contacted the NSPCC and they told her to go to a [domestic violence] one-stop shop, but that is all I knew.
“[The council] covered its back and when the head of social care asked [them] to discipline the two social workers they ignored her.
“It is shocking for us to know about this. We cannot go back in time but we just hope it does not happen to anyone else.
“Unless they take action it is going to happen again and again.”
Ms Cruz’s friend Maravic Ayala wept in court last year as she recalled how she begged her friend not to return home after Niazi had been released from a night in the cells for smashing up her mobile phone with the same hammer he later murdered her with.
She said: “I'm begging her to stay at my place because I am really worried about their safety from Asad because she thought Asad was still in jail.
“She was crying and the last word she told me 'if you no longer contact me maybe Asad killed me already.'
“She was really scared.”
The report, leaked to the BBC, found a social services manager did not think the referral was serious enough to warrant a visit. The night Ms Cruz died, a manager had taken the referrals home to read.
Olivia Butler, former interim head of social care, who commissioned the report, told the BBC the altered records were “to cover up the lack of action and proper response”.
She said things could have been different, adding: “A visit to her, to the family, seeing her, it would have informed us that more help was needed."
Senior management, run by the then children’s director Duncan Clark, who resigned the day before a damning Ofsted report with a £128,000 pay-off, would not discipline staff, according to the report.
Mrs Butler resigned in protest.
Councillor Patricia Bamford, lead member for children’s services and Councillor Derek Osbourne were unavailable for comment.
Kingston Council said it would be inappropriate to comment while a domestic violence homicide review took place.
A spokesman said: "The domestic homicide review is overseen by an independent chairperson and is an inter-agency forum which will review the findings of each agency and develop an action plan.
"The review is informed by individually prepared internal management reviews from the different agencies."