Maya Chappell: Murdered toddler's mum asked health visitors for help two weeks before she was killed

Maya Chappell
Maya Chappell -Credit:Durham Constabulary

The mum of murdered Maya Chappell asked health visitors for help two weeks before the toddler was killed.

Two-year-old Maya died after suffering severe brain trauma when she was shaken by her mother's new partner at her home in Shotton Colliery, County Durham, in 2022. Michael Daymond was convicted of her murdering Maya, while her mum, Dana Carr was found guilty of child cruelty by neglect and allowing the death of a child.

Today, a safeguarding review into the deaths of Maya and three-year-old Dwelanyiah Robinson, who died in County Durham two months later, has been published.

The Child Safeguarding Practice Review (CSPR) was commissioned by the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership, highlights missed opportunities where agencies could have stepped in to offer the families of both children early support, had more "professional curiosity" been shown. And in the case of Maya, who the report explains had moved homes several times in her short life, concerns were raised about her behaviour just two weeks before she died, shortly after Daymond moved into their home.

The review explains how her mum Dana Carr, contacted the health visiting service and spoke to a duty health visitor who she told about a change in her daughter's behaviour and asked for support. The information was passed on to Maya's health visitor and it was recommended that a home visit was made.

Maya Chappell was murdered in September 2022
Maya Chappell was murdered in September 2022 -Credit:Durham Constabulary

However, the report says there was nothing to suggest that immediate action was needed and as procedures say a visit in such cases should happen within two weeks, Maya was not seen before she died.

The review says this could have been a chance to give Maya's family, who were not known to social services, more targeted support. And it explained how there was health visitor staffing issues in the area.

The report says: "There is both system and practice learning identified here. The task was received and read. However there is no information or record of any actions or oversight by the new health visiting area.

"The task disappearing and did not provide any prompts or reminders to support the health visitor or specify who would pick the task up from the 'waiting list'. The area was known to have staffing issues. This was seen on reflection to be significant in that it indicated a possible re assessment of need from universal to targeted service.

"The behaviours described by mother could be indicative of a child in distress which whilst being an appropriate hypothesis presents a risk of applying hindsight bias. The issue here is the delay in contacting mother and undertaking a home visit to fully assess the child and mothers needs in a timely way."

The review also explains how Maya's father, James Chappell, raised concerns about Carr's relationship with Daymond when he used the Domestic Violence Disclosure Team to ask for information about the mother of his child's new partner.

Maya's mother Dana Carr has been jailed for nine years
Michael Daymond who murdered two-year-old Maya Chappell

However, when police spoke to Carr she told them she was no longer in a relationship with Daymond so no disclosure was made and Mr Chappell's worries were not investigated further.

The report says: "The decision to close the request, based solely on mother’s self-report and no follow-up face-to-face visit, showed a limited understanding of the nature of intimate partner violence and abuse and its impact. It also prevented any further opportunity to collate details about mother’s new partner and assess any risks through a Claire’s Law disclosure."

The review also looks at how financial pressures led to Maya being withdrawn from the first nursery she attended, and at around the same time Carr asked her GP for help with anxiety. This could have been another opportunity where help could have been give, the report says.

Floral tributes, messages and soft toys are left outside a property on Milton Grove in Shotton Colliery following the death of two-year-old Maya Louise Chappell.
Maya's mother Dana Carr has been jailed for nine years -Credit:Durham Constabulary

"It would appear financial pressures were a factor that led to [Maya] being withdrawn from her first nursery. The consequence of this was that [Maya] did not attend nursery until she became eligible for a free nursery placement at 30 months. On the same day that the private nursey advised mother she would need to make some contribution towards paying the nursery/childminder debt mother had a telephone consultation with her GP disclosing low mood and anxiety. Whilst she was provided with a short-term prescription and advice regarding a self-referral to Talking therapies this was not followed up or additional support discussed. This would have been good practice and was a missed opportunity to offer support to the family and understand the family’s needs at an early stage through Durham's early help systems."

Maya was born near the start of the national Covid lockdown and then moved to four different homes within County Durham during her life. Both factors meant the family had five different health visitors and there was a mixture of telephone contacts and home visits, with some phone calls being missed.

Daymond, 27 was convicted of Maya's murder and jailed for life, while Carr, 24, was found guilty of child cruelty by neglect and allowing the death of a child. She was locked-up for nine years.

As the couple stood trial at Teesside Crown Court jurors heard how on September 28, 2022, Carr left her daughter with Daymond while she went to work. Later that day, Daymond contacted his partner to tell her that Maya had collapsed and he rang 999. The youngster had suffered severe brain trauma as well as internal haemorrhaging, and she died in hospital two days later.

The court heard how Daymond, had drug debts and had found out that day that his Universal Credit payment had been stopped the day he shook Maya

Today Dave Ashton, chair of the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership, said changes were already being made.

He said: “These are deeply distressing cases resulting in the tragic deaths of two young children, and our thoughts and sympathies are very much with all those who loved and cared for them.

“We are committed to learning from the circumstances of each case and commissioned a joint Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, led by an independent author, to look at the responses of the agencies involved in detail and identify any themes around learning and practice. The learning arising from the review has been shared across the partnership and we are working together to implement the recommendations.”