Baby Peter’s murderers are now revealed, which complicates the affair even more:
[But} wind back 28 years to Connelly’s beginnings and the echoes of neglect, deprivation, cruelty and abuse are hard to ignore.
Connelly was born on 29 June 1981 in Leicester, the product of a liaison between a travelling salesman and Mary O’Connor, her Irish-born mother. She grew up with her brother, who was four years older, but before Connelly was two her mother had split up with the salesman and moved the family from Leicester to north London.
Like her daughter would go on to do, Connelly’s mother neglected her children.
By that time her mother was living with another man, one whom Connelly would call her dad. But when she was 12 her mother revealed that he was not her real father after all. Connelly has spoken little about her background and has told legal sources that she does not want her life re-examined, but she has said that the information about her father “sent me a bit wild for a while”.
“I went through a period of wanting to find him,” she said. At this point relationships within the family were breaking down. Connelly claims she was being physically abused, and eventually because of the situation at home with her mother she was taken under the wing of Islington social services along with her relative.
She was given the choice of being placed into care in a children’s home or a live-in reform school. She chose the latter. The relative, however, did enter a children’s home run by Islington, at a time when unknown to the wider world they were in the grip of a paedophile ring targeting children unchecked by the authorities.
When the child abuse scandal that permeated Islington’s homes was exposed in the 1990s the position of Connelly’s relative was considered so serious that a separate report was written about him. Known as Child A, he was targeted by the paedophile ring as a victim and then groomed into becoming a kind of pied piper, luring other children from Islington homes into the grips of the group of abusers.
I’m not happy that her’s, her boyfriend’s and his brother’s names have been formally released. And that doesn’t mean I support them in any way, or condone a single thing that they did – what she, Barker & Owen did was horrific, indefensible and unforgivable, but releasing their names risks a witch hunt against them. I have a thing against witch hunts, I tend to prefer the rule of law, which like it or not has to apply equally to everyone at all times. And while reports like this one can give some insight into what made Connelly the person she’s become, those like it will be few and far between (see?), with ‘monster’ headlines clouding the realities about these ‘monsters’, which makes it ever harder to identify and protect (safeguard?) other children genuinely at risk of abuse or death. Should his killers rot in jail forever? Of course. But let’s have a reasoned look at what makes people like this do what they do, and make it easier for people in the child protection business to identify them and do a better job of protecting children.