A BABY was thrown against a wall by his father in a cannabis-fuelled rage after social workers and other authorities failed to protect him.

A damning report has found there were "missed opportunities" to identify warning signs that 22-year-old Benjamin Reeve could be a "risk" to children.

The baby, referred to in the report as Baby Liam, suffered a fractured skull and ribs in the attack in April 2013 but survived.

Reeve, who grew up in care with a history of violence, crime and drug abuse, was jailed for 12-and-a-half years in July after admitting grievous bodily harm with intent.

A report into the case by Brighton and Hove Local Safeguarding Children Board found midwives, health visitors, emergency staff and social workers failed to ask questions and share information which could have protected Baby Liam.

The report also found staffing problems at West Sussex County Council meant the case was temporarily unmonitored and Reeve, of Dorset Gardens, Brighton, was given £350 in cash completely unsupervised despite his drugs problem.

Social workers had a "culture" of avoiding assumptions people would be bad parent because they had grown up in care and as a consequence Reeve was not offered extra help and key information about his past was not shared.

There were also delays in Brighton and Hove City Council staff reporting the injuries out of hours which potentially jeopardised the child's protection, the report found.

Police officers also potentially put the baby in danger for a further 24 hours when they delayed Reeve's arrest. He was also allowed to see his son while on bail.

As well as the damning report, The Argus can also reveal the authorities knew Reeve was living in the same house as another child while on bail for two years. During this time he assaulted his ex-girlfriend.

Baby Liam's grandmother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the major failing was communication.

She said: "They just didn't talk to each other and I'm disgusted with how social workers handled the situation.

"They prioritised looking out for the father over the safety of my grandson.

"They were so insistent after the arrest he should still see him. I had to sit there and watch while he held him, knowing what he had done.

"I hope this report helps protect other children from harm."

The authorities involved said they accepted the report's findings and that lessons had been learnt.

The county council said workload problems were due to "recruitment issues" which were now resolved.

A city council spokeswoman said improvements had already been made with regards emergency staff reporting injuries out of hours.

The hospital trust said fathers would be asked more in-depth questions and discussions would be documented while Sussex Police bosses they would consider improvements.


A YOUNG mother and a proud grandmother popped out to go shopping one Sunday back in April 2013.  They left the newborn addition to their family behind with his father in their basement flat in Brighton.

They were gone for just a matter of hours and thought he would be safe.

But on their return they found the six-week-old with a swollen head and rushed him to hospital.

While shopping, 19-year-old Benjamin Reeve, still in the haze of the cannabis he had smoked the night before, had “lost it” and smashed his son against a wall.

Doctors originally thought it was a brain haemorrhage but scans taken over the following days and weeks revealed the child had a fractured skull and ribs.

The family spent countless hours in hospital waiting rooms, hoping he would be ok. All the time Reeve lied.

He first said Baby Liam, as he was referred to in the report, had fallen on the floor while being fed.

He then told his stepfather, David Boteler, he had fallen asleep with Liam on his chest and he had fallen off.

His denials led to suspicion falling on other members of the family, including the mother. Relatives began to suspect him but he only admitted responsibility nearly six months later, when he confided in Mr Boteler.

He told Reeve to confess to police. When he refused Mr Boteler told officers himself.  Reeve was arrested and questioned but was allowed on bail for nearly two years all the time maintaining his innocence and claiming his stepfather had made it up.

In this time he lived with a new girlfriend in close proximity to another young child, carried out a burglary and tracked down his ex-partner and mother of Liam and assaulted her. 

He eventually changed his plea on the first day of his trial and was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison. 

Recorder Anthony Chinn said his actions of striking or throwing a baby against a wall were “analogous to using a weapon against a defenceless child”. 

Reeve’s violent streak and his web of lies were first laid bare when The Argus successfully challenged a court order which protected his identity. 

Now aged two, Baby Liam, is happy, safe and recovering well from his injuries. But there is a risk he could be permanently brain damaged from the attack.

His family will not know until his brain is fully developed when he is five.

We now know Reeve had a childhood spent in care and a background of violence and drugs. 

He was just a teenager when his girlfriend became pregnant and police were called to reports of them arguing and domestic incidents on a number of occasions. 

Social workers and other authorities tasked with protecting vulnerable children were aware of his history.

But they did not share this, discuss it or think it important enough to act on. 

The report also found social workers lived in a culture where they were so eager not to presume a child who grew up in care would become a bad parent, that they failed to offer them any extra support or pick up on warning signs which could put children in danger. 

Reeve was even given cash without it being properly checked how it was spent, despite his history with drugs. 

The report found the way authorities contacted each other out-of-hours and decisions to hold back rather than take action led to delays in the criminal investigation which could have put the child in greater danger.

There were even suggestions some of the injuries were sustained earlier than the attack of which Reeve pleaded guilty to.

All authorities involved have spoken of acknowledging the report and have said improvements have been made.

Whether or not these improvements go far enough, it is difficult to tell. But one thing is for sure, a case such as this can never be allowed to happen again.