CPS statement in relation to its decision on Blake Fowler case

20/02/2015

A CPS spokesperson said: "The Crown Prosecution Service was asked to consider a file of evidence to decide whether or not someone should be prosecuted for any offence in connection with the death of Blake Fowler who died from a head trauma in 2011 when he was 7-years-old.

Blake Fowler died on 3 December 2011, whilst he had been left by his mother, Sarah Spacagna, in the care of his step-father Peter Meek, along with Phillip Meek, Peter's brother.

"Following a careful review of all the available evidence provided to us by Hampshire Constabulary  it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for any offence in relation to any person. This decision was made on December, 18, 2014. In reaching our decision we considered whether there was sufficient evidence and whether it was in the public interest to prosecute anyone with the offences of murder; manslaughter; causing or failing to protect Blake from death or serious physical harm; and the offence of child cruelty which would include the wilful neglect or abuse of Blake.

"This decision was explained to Blakes grand-mother at a meeting with the police in December, during which she was offered a meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service and was told that she was entitled to ask for our decision to be reviewed under the Victims Right to Review scheme.

"On Wednesday 18 February, Southampton's Local Children's Safeguarding Board published the findings from a Serious Case Review into the death of Blake, which showed that Peter Meek and Sarah Spacagna had neglected Blake at various times. Evidence of neglect was also present in the Family Court proceedings findings, issued in November 2012, into the case of Blake.

"The evidence present in the Serious Case Review, the Family Court proceedings findings, the inquest into Blake's death, as well as the statements from the different agencies and witnesses had been provided to us by Hampshire  Constabulary for us to take into consideration in deciding whether Sarah Spacagna, Peter and Phillip Meek had committed any offences in relation to Blake.

"Under criminal legislation the offence of  Child Cruelty contrary to section 1 Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (CYPA 1933) requires the prosecution to prove that  a person over 16 years has responsibility for a child under 16 years and wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons, or exposes him, in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health. The offence can be committed notwithstanding the death of the child in question.

"Blake Fowler was living in an environment where domestic violence was prevalent. His mother had not protected him from this environment. He was also encouraged by Peter  Meek to box regularly with his brother. Although there was clear evidence that Peter Meek and Sarah Spacagna had neglected Blake, there was insufficient evidence to show that they had done so  wilfully in a manner to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health. In a context of this criminal offence, wilfully requires to have acted deliberately or intentionally, something that could not be established to the criminal standard in this case.

"The  evidence of neglect found in the family court proceedings are in the context of section 31(2) of the Children Act 1989 under which a court can only make a care order if it finds that the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Findings of fact that establish neglect in family proceedings and those found in the Serious Case Review do not equate to criminal neglect under section 1  of the Child  and Young Person Act  1933. The findings of neglect by a parent under s31(2) do not require proof of any intent or wilfulness on the part of the neglectful parent.

"Taking this into consideration, there was therefore insufficient evidence to prosecute Sarah Spacagna and Peter Meek with an offence of child cruelty."