Implications of the Cumbria Child Safeguarding Practice Review

The Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) and key partners have produced a briefing focused on the death of Leiland-JamesMichael Corkill (Pettit, 2022).

Leiland-James Michael Corkill was removed from his birth family through care proceedings and placed
with foster carers when aged two months. The plan for Leiland-James was adoption and he was placed
with prospective adopters, Laura and Scott Castle, when aged seven months, in August 2020. Laura and
Scott Castle had been assessed and approved as prospective adopters in 2019 and matched with
Leiland-James at an adoption panel 11 months later.

Leiland-James died in January 2021, of a catastrophic head injury, having lived with his prospective
adopters for five months. In May 2022, Laura Castle was found guilty of murder and jailed for life with a
minimum term of 18 years. She had admitted manslaughter. During the hearing, she was found to have
lied about her alcohol use, mental health, physical health, family debts, and attitude to physical

Key recommendations include:

  • The need for all health information for adopters and children in the family to be updated and
  • reconsidered at key points in the case, such as at matching, at Child Looked After Reviews and
  • when an adoption application is made.
  • The seeking of assurance that medical assessments do not rely on the self-report of the
    prospective adopters.
  • The need for flags to be placed on the GP records of prospective adopters/adopters.
  • The need for financial information, including the total of any debts, to be robustly assessed
    during any assessment of prospective adopters.

For more information the full briefing can be accessed here.