An inquest is about to start into the death of four-month-old Alfie Gildea, with his mother Caitlin anxious to see that it sparks several procedural changes relating to the wider circumstances surrounding his tragic death in 2018.
Alfie was found by his mother with head injuries in September of 2018 and died two days later. The baby’s father, Samuel Gildea, later admitted to an ‘act of deliberate and unlawful violence which involved rigorous and violent shaking,’ as well as coercive control towards Caitlin. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence.
Caitlin McMichael, Alfie’s mother, had also been subjected to abuse from Samuel Gildea, in both physical and emotional forms. But her grievance is how her partner’s history of abuse was kept from her by agencies who knew of his past, including the Crown Prosecution Service, the Police, Social Services and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme. Samuel was known to have mental health issues and had six previous incidents of domestic violence, amongst a number of convictions.
Caitlin therefore commented: “If only I had known what the police knew, I would never have allowed Sam near my children. Amongst other questions, I want this inquest to give me an answer as to why I was not told about his real background by the agencies involved.”
Now Caitlin is hoping that the inquest – which starts on Monday October 12th and is expected to last two weeks – will consider:
- Whether the previous violent incidents between Samuel and Caitlin had resulted in adequate risk assessments being carried out by police.
- Whether information sharing across agencies was adequate and sufficient.
- Why Caitlin was not fully informed about her partner’s previous incidents involving domestic violence, through the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme known as ‘Clare’s Law’ (this is a scheme which enables the police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending).
- Whether Alfie and his family were adequately protected, given what was known by the Social Services, and whether their safeguarding systems were effective.
Ison Harrison expertise represents bereaved family
Ruth Bundey of Harrison Bundey Solicitors is representing the family through her role with INQUEST.
Ruth is a nationally renowned lawyer, having successfully represented clients in many high profile cases, including the Hillsborough Disaster inquests. Ruth has been qualified since 1980 and now specialises in inquest law and is therefore regularly instructed by the charity INQUEST.
Commenting on the Alfie Gildea case, Selen Cavcav, a Senior Caseworker at INQUEST said:
“This case engages a number of serious concerns in relation to how safeguarding agencies and the criminal justice system responded to information regarding domestic violence and coercive and controlling behaviour. This inquest must provide proper scrutiny of any systemic failings which put Alfie and his mother at such risk.”
INQUEST have been working with the family of Alfie Gildea since November 2019, and it is hoped that the two-week inquest will bring the family a satisfactory conclusion and some closure on the death of four-month-old Alfie.