Baby P: Peter's killers named for the first time as Tracey Connelly and Steven Barker
The killers of Baby Peter will be given new identities at taxpayers’ expense and lifetime protection from the threat of exposure after being named publicly for the first time as Tracey Connelly and Steven Barker.
By Caroline Gammell and Martin BeckfordPublished: 11:59PM BST 10 Aug 2009
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Tracey Connelly and Steven Barker subjected Baby Peter to an appalling ordeal that left him with 50 injuries, including a broken back Photo: METROPOLITAN POLICE
Baby Peter, who suffered more that 50 injuries in his short life, including a broken back, eight fractured ribs and 15 mouth wounds. Photo: PA
The boy's mother and her boyfriend can finally be identified more than two years after the toddler’s death following the lifting of a court order that prevented their names and photographs being published.
The 17-month-old boy suffered an agonising death in their squalid home after months of abuse. The pair subjected him to an appalling ordeal that left him with 50 injuries, including a broken back.
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Baby P: the battle to name his mother Tracey Connelly and her boyfriend Steven Barker
Connelly, 28, who admitted causing or allowing Baby Peter’s death, could be released from jail in as little as three years.
She has already been placed in solitary accommodation in prison to protect her from fellow prisoners, such is the level of the notoriety she has gained since full details of her son’s treatment were disclosed.
It is almost certain that under human rights laws she will be granted lifelong anonymity once she is freed.
By claiming that she had the right to a life free from vigilante attacks or intrusion by the media, she would be given a new name, moved to a home equipped with panic buttons and provided with round-the-clock police protection for the rest of her life at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £1 million a year.
The same protection may also be given to Barker, 33, who could be free in 12 years.
It can be disclosed today that he is the brother of Jason Owen, 37 — Connelly’s lodger, who was also convicted over Peter’s death. He was the only one of the three accused to be publicly named at the end of their trial last November.
Protection orders are often granted to those who become notorious for crimes they commit against children. These include Mary Bell, who killed two boys when she was 11; Maxine Carr, who provided a false alibi for Ian Huntley after he murdered the Soham schoolgirls; and the schoolboy killers of James Bulger.
Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, was angered by the public cost of protecting Connelly in the future. “She had absolutely no concern for the human rights of Baby P, so it’s a bit much to expect anyone to fall over themselves protecting her rights,” he said.
“It will probably stick in the throat of most taxpayers to stump up cash for her. What she did was hideous and she should face the consequences of that.
“It’s a prime example of how human rights of criminals are put before those of victims — in this case a defenceless baby.”
Claude Knights, the director of Kidscape, a children’s charity, said the killers had “destroyed faith in humanity”.
“I don’t feel society should spend the hundreds and thousands it would cost [to give them new identities],” he said. “I would prefer it to be spent on child protection.”
Harry Fletcher, the assistant general secretary of Napo, the probation union, suggested that criminals who needed protection because of the nature of their offences should be forced to help pay for it, but admitted: “The vast majority of these people are on benefits.”
Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat MP whose north London constituency covers part of Haringey, where Peter died, said it was “very unfortunate” that their notoriety meant that they would receive protection.
“One has to hope that the indeterminate sentences mean that they will serve a very long time,” she said.
New details of the suffering that Peter endured can also be disclosed for the first time as well as further examples of how Haringey council and other authorities failed to protect him. These include:
How Connelly had three other children — two of whom were placed on the “at risk” protection register alongside Peter by social services — but none was taken away from her until the boy died.
She was pregnant with her fifth child, her first with Barker, when Peter died and gave birth while on remand.
Social workers failed to realise that Barker was living with the family and abusing Peter for nine months before his death, despite repeated visits from the authorities.
The authorities also failed to notice when Barker’s brother Owen, a member of the National Front, moved in with his 15-year-old runaway girlfriend five weeks before Peter died.
Peter was left in his cot for hours on end, was treated worse than a dog, had his fingertips sliced off with a craft knife, his nails pulled out with pliers and every scrap of his clothing was covered in blood.
Haringey council tried to prevent Connelly and Barker from being named until 2026 to protect Peter’s siblings but a High Court judge disagreed, saying the “boil must be lanced”.
Peter, who could be named only as Baby P until earlier this year, was born in Tottenham, north London, in March 2006 but his father left home soon after. Connelly began living with Barker in November of that year.
Peter was subjected to horrific cruelty at their hands. He was placed on Haringey’s at-risk register but social workers and doctors were duped into thinking his injuries were accidental and he was not taken into care. His mother was arrested twice for assault but was not charged.
Owen moved into the house with his girlfriend in June 2007. Peter died two months later after suffering a broken back and more than 15 injuries to his head. Connelly admitted causing or allowing his death, while Barker and Owen were found guilty of the same charge. None was found guilty of murder.
After the trial at the Old Bailey, Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey’s director of children’s services, refused to apologise for her department’s failure to protect Peter. She was sacked amid public anger at the crime and the authorities’ mistakes, which was heightened by the fact that Haringey council had been criticised over the death of Victoria Climbié seven years previously.
Three council managers and a social worker were sacked by Haringey after being suspended on full pay for five months. They appealed against their dismissals, while Mrs Shoesmith lodged a claim against the council with an employment tribunal.
In May, Connelly was jailed for a minimum of five years; Barker a minimum of 12; and Owen a minimum of three. However, Connelly has already been in jail for two years since her son’s death and could therefore be released in 2012.
Barker has subsequently been sentenced to life for the rape of a two-year-old girl, with a minimum of 10 years. That runs concurrently.
Andrew Flanagan, the chief executive of the NSPCC, said the focus should be on Peter, the “helpless victim” and not his killers. “We all must do everything in our power to stop more children dying in such horrific ways,” he said.
Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey council, said its focus was on making “major improvements” to child protection services.
“It is our top priority and we will do all we can to ensure that children are safe,” she said. “Baby Peter’s death was a tragedy that could and should have been prevented.
“We have apologised unreservedly for the shortcomings in our child protection service, which failed him so badly.”