A woman whose grandchild was killed by his parents in the same borough as Arthur Labinjo-Hughes after multiple interventions by police and social workers has said she can’t believe it has happened again.

Angela Cassin’s grandson Levi-Blu Cassin died at the hands of her daughter Danielle Cassin and her violent partner Mark Piper in 2013.

Then, serious concerns were raised by the Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board about the ability of authorities to keep kids in the area safe.

Click here to read more Arthur Labinjo-Hughes stories

It is the same board that is now investigating what can be learnt from the death of little Arthur, six, who died at the hands of his evil stepmother last year.

And Ms Cassin says the two cases bear startling similarities: that social workers involved didn’t listen to the at-risk children’s families’ concerns, were too eager to believe lying parents, closed cases too easily and failed to communicate with police.

The 55-year-old, of Solihull, said: “They’ve learned nothing.

“The only fully real hope that I ever had about the lessons learnt in Levi’s case was that it wouldn’t happen to the next child.

“That was a promise made to us and they broke that promise because they never listen to the family.

“I’m not on a witch hunt. I understand that they make mistakes but in all these cases it’s not just one mistake, it’s a catalogue of mistakes.”



The last picture ever taken of Levi-blu Cassin before he was murdered. Pic shows Angela Cassin with her grandson

And she added of the pain felt by Arthur’s family: “I’m heartbroken for them.

“And I know exactly what they are going through.

“And I really prayed that somebody had learned from Levi. They should not be going through this.

“But it’s not just about Arthur’s case. You need to go backwards. You can’t do a jigsaw with half the puzzle.”

Angela’s family were heartbroken when Danielle became involved with drugs after meeting a partner when she was younger.

She had received convictions for nine crimes committed between October 2009 and August 2010 – mainly to fund her drug use.

She discovered she was pregnant with Levi-Blu by Piper in prison and the tot was born in April 2011.

Danielle was well-known to authorities while Levi-Blu’s father Mark Piper had grown up in local authority care and was himself a violent drug dealer.




She was referred to social services by midwifery teams during the pregnancy when she admitted using heroin, cocaine and cannabis.

Six months after Levi-Blu’s birth, Danielle secretly began a relationship with Piper again and Levi-Blu was seen by social workers on multiple occasions between April and July of that year.

During late July 2011, police visited Danielle’s home responding to concerns of domestic violence, but the incident was not reported to Children’s Social Work Services or Public Protection Services.

Officers were called to the property four further times to reports of domestic abuse that year while social workers were tipped off about drug dealing but decided to close the case.

The tot became the subject of a child protection plan in August 2012.

But tragically, after a conference was held to discuss Levi-Blu becoming the subject of the plan, a red flag was not assigned in the police’s information system, so officers who visited afterwards had no idea that he was vulnerable or that multiple reports of domestic violence had occurred at the property.

As part of Levi-Blu’s protection plan, Piper was not allowed to stay at the same property as the child, but he moved back in when the child was 18 months old, flouting the rules.

A later Serious Case Review found social workers were too eager to believe Danielle when she told them he wasn’t living there and that she was clean of drugs.

Levi-Blu died on February 20, 2013, after his mother claimed to have found him unresponsive while at home with her and Piper.

He had traumatic abdominal injuries – including a split duodenum (part of the small intestine) – from being stamped, thrown or kicked as well as previous injuries from a few weeks’ prior.

His parents were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on December 22, 2014, for causing or allowing the death of a child but were cleared of murder and given only nine years each as neither would admit to causing the boy’s injuries.

A Serious Case Review was held to look into whether members of the Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board – which included social workers, West Midlands Police and health staff – could have done more.

It has since been renamed the Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Partnership.

The report found a catalogue of missed chances had led to the boy’s death.

It found social workers had become so hardened to families’ dire circumstances they failed to see risks posed to children, thresholds for intervention were too high and staff were too keen to close cases.

Meanwhile, police officers and social workers only communicated through police call handlers, there was too much “unnecessary repeated assessment” and Levi should have been removed from Danielle’s care before his child protection conference was held.

Too often, Danielle was the subject of intervention with little thought given to the effects of her behaviour on Levi-Blu, the review added.



Angela Cassin and her daughter Danielle

At the time, Nick Page, then chief executive of Solihull Council, said he accepted Levi-Blu had been let down.

Now Angela, who ironically is a foster carer herself, says that she and her family believe Levi-Blu’s death was entirely preventable.

They had continually reported their concerns to the authorities and Angela says they knew she was willing to take Levi while Danielle sorted herself out.

At one point before the child protection meeting, she was handed him for three days but says she was told to hand him back to his mother – something she believes should never have happened.

She says after Levi-Blu was put on the child protection plan the family stopped being informed of what was happening so had no idea that Danielle was suffering domestic abuse – meaning family members didn’t intervene.



Levi-blu Cassin

“If they had left Levi with me when they gave him to me he would still be alive,” Angela asserts.

“It needed to be a two-way exchange of information and that’s why I was gutted that I wasn’t on his child protection plan because then I would have known that the police were going there.

“I would have changed what I was doing. I would have spoken to her first and I would have taken him.

“I would have taken him and her if she’d been up for that. But no-one told me the police had been there.”

Angela now says she will never speak to her daughter again and believes she should have got a life sentence along with Piper.

“Anyone who kills a child should get life,” she added.

“If you are anything to do with it, you should get life. My own daughter should have got life.

“You can’t blame drugs. You chose to take drugs. You want to live like that, live like that, but give us the child, give us Levi.

“The nine-year sentences kill us. This can happen to anybody. The only person you know in life is yourself.”

And asked how she thinks the authorities in Solihull can improve, she said: “They should stop being so defensive all the while. Put their hands up. Listen.

“Talk to the families.

“The families have got nothing to hide. They have done everything that they possibly can, get all the pieces of the jigsaw together, not just the professional side. And then maybe proper change will be implemented.”

It comes after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died less than 10 miles away while under the care of the same authorities.

His grandmother also tried to raise the alarm with social services, while Arthur’s uncle tried to tell police there was a problem but was threatened with arrest under lockdown rules.

Now an investigation will again be carried out, led by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, which will look at whether the authorities in Solihull could have prevented Arthur’s death in June 2020.

Social workers saw Arthur before he died but concluded there were no safeguarding concerns – missing bruising seen by family.

The little boy was later killed by his stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, under the nose of his father Thomas Hughes, 29.



Undated handout photo issued by West Midlands Police of Thomas Hughes and Emma Tustin

Tustin was jailed for a minimum of 29 years for murdering Arthur, while Hughes received 21 years for manslaughter.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “There remains great sadness about the tragic death of toddler Levi Blu in 2013. We were committed to ensuring that those responsible were brought to justice.

“A serious case review was carried out which identified areas of improvements for a number of agencies including us.

“As a result, we made improvements to our training around robust investigation of domestic abuse and safeguarding awareness.

“In addition, we made improvements to our intelligence systems and how we share information with partners.

“A multi-agency safeguarding hub was also set up and significant IT advancements to assist our officers when attending calls were made.

“And our call handlers now operate a system using real-time intelligence to address and assess risk from the initial call.

“Our thoughts remain with all those affected by Levi Blu’s untimely death.”

And a spokesman for Solihull Council added: “The tragic death of Levi Blu Cassin at the hands of his parents, who were convicted in December 2014 for causing or allowing the death of a child, resulted in Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board (SLSCB) undertaking a Serious Case Review.

“The Serious Case Review report, published in October 2015 identified a number of areas for improvement for a number of agencies, including issues around information sharing, assessments and intervention plans, the robustness of the Child Protection Conference process and the quality of supervision.

“The report acknowledged that ‘Children’s Social Work Services have since made significant improvements in all these areas’ and led to better cooperation between agencies with the setting up of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

“The report went on to explain ‘The delay in publication did not prevent the council and partners in delivering on lessons learned. Action plans were produced by the LSCB as well as by each of the agencies involved and have already been delivered’.

“Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was murdered by his father’s partner and his father was convicted of his manslaughter.

“The circumstances around his tragic death will now be subject to an independent review by the National Child Safeguarding Review Panel and clearly it would be inappropriate for the council to comment ahead of the findings of that review.”

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