Serious Case Review
This is an executive summary (not the full report) of the original 34-page Serious Case Review (SCR) commissioned by the police in March 2010, and conducted by Buckinghamshire County Council (pdf below). Three of the police officers involved in Mark’s case sat on this Serious Case Review, which met 5 times before and during Mark’s trial. The Review was convened on 16 June 2010, at the request of the police, before the trial had started. The defence were not informed of this process, despite the discovery of evidence that directly contradicted elements of the prosecution case. It only came to our attention following an article that appeared in the Guardian. This document should be taken with some caution, since it contains material inaccuracies based upon the prosecution’s earliest version of events. Pages 2 – 3 for example, repeat assertions made by the prosecution about Mark’s social life and the burial which were disproved at trial. What is of interest here is the evidence which was not put before the jury.
The full version of this Review reveals that records existed of a meeting “having occurred” at Sami’s house on 8 September between Sami and agency staff reviewing his funding under the Direct Payments Scheme. This visit took place 3 days after the prosecution claim Sami was already dead. Yet the police – despite sitting on the Review panel – neither investigated the lead nor informed the defence. As a result, the records have since been deleted.
The Honourable Judge Reddihough specifically directed the jury in his summing-up that:
“The prosecution’s case is that Samuel Alexander was killed on 5 September” … “5 September. Of course, that is the crucial date. The prosecution say that is the date when Samuel Alexander was killed by this defendant, the day before he was going to move into the flat”.
This new evidence, on top of everything else we now know, undermines their timeline, and motive, in a dramatic way. Without this keystone, the entire case crumbles.
The SCR confirms four other important things that either escaped attention at trial, or went uncorroborated. Firstly, that Mark had every good reason to trust the social services to keep tabs on his father, and that even if Sami hadn’t told Mark where he was going, he would still be under their supervision. Their lack of concern or contact reassured Mark that his dad must have been fine, and that he was just being evasive. This is one of the reasons why Mark didn’t report his father missing. As it turns out, a “lack of scrutiny… [and] and an unduly light-touch reviewing process” meant that the first Mark actually heard from the social services was in February 2010, on the day of his arrest.
Secondly, the Review confirms Sami’s extraordinary unpredictability. Mr Alexander “could be elusive… [and his] non-engagement was familiar to staff” (page 4). This evidence directly contradicts the picture painted at trial by the prosecution that Sami’s disappearance and disengagement with healthcare services was completely out of character. In his summing-up, the Honourable Judge Reddihough placed much importance on the idea that Sami was “someone likely to attend appointments”. There were, he explained to the jury:
“…a series of things that were supposed to happen but did not happen in September… You may think, it is a matter for you, that once he had a health problem that needed sorting out and had appointments, he was somebody who could be expected to attend them”.
Yet, this was clearly never the case. Even in the month prior to his supposed death in September, a District Nurse had been “unable to gain access to [Sami’s] home”, he had “failed to attend an outpatient appointment at Milton Keynes Hospital”, and he wasn’t responding to phone calls (page 9). This pattern of behaviour: refusing treatments, medication, home visits, and so on; was all too familiar with staff. The jury were completely misled on this issue, as they were on so many others.
Thirdly, the Review reveals Sami’s desire for secrecy in all things. As a panel member observed in the full report, Sami “seemed not to exist”. Mark had been brought up to carefully guard this secrecy and not compromise his father. Sami was the kind of man who could be expected to go away on ‘business trips’ without questions being asked, and who didn’t take kindly to interference or inquisitive prying from his son, or indeed his former partner. Alerting the authorities would have been the last thing his father would have wanted Mark to do, and so we see a further dimension to Mark’s reluctance to report his dad missing.
Finally, the SCR gives us further insight into the four household assistants working in Sami’s home at the time of his death. Neighbours “were aware care workers did go to the house on a weekly basis” (WP), and indeed Sami had been “looking for someone to stay with him overnight” (Full Report). Yet, these self-employed individuals were not paying “National Insurance contributions [or] tax”, meaning that the police were unable to trace them (page 14). The audit trail stretching back to 2007 “hinged on bank statements and receipts” made out to N. Chalk, R. Read, A. Harvey, C. Huckle, and J. Mullis: almost certainly all false identities.
Only one of these individuals actually came forward during the original police investigation, but no statement was taken. We are keen to speak to anyone who worked for Sami in this capacity at any point during 2007 – 2009, and would encourage them or anyone who knows them to contact us in confidence.scr_exec_summary_mrc_final