Published: 13:21, 01 July 2019
| Updated: 18:18, 01 July 2019
A mother who murdered her five-year-old son before jumping to her own death at a beauty spot was a "narcissist who was only happy when she was the centre of attention", a probe has been told.
The body of Cheryl Tompsett, 42, from Maidstone, was found at the foot of Beachy Head in East Sussex, while son Leo's was discovered part of the way down the cliff face, both having suffered multiple severe injuries.
Miss Tompsett, a bereavement counsellor who worked with children, had struggled with mental and physical ill health in the months leading up to her death last summer.
An inquest was told the mother had also been quizzed by police, who were called three times in three days following violent outbursts and arguments with her partner Mark Woodhams, also Leo’s father.
A court order restricting her access to Leo was granted in a family court as relatives became increasingly worried about her ability to look after her children.
The alarm was raised on the evening of June 17 - Father's Day - when she failed to return with Leo for his 7.30pm bed time and their bodies were found by the coastguard the following morning.
She left a note to Mr Woodhams, reading: “If I can’t have Leo then nobody is going to," the inquest heard.
A serious case review published by the Kent Safeguarding Children Board (KSCB) found there was no evidence of significant abuse to Leo, referred to as Child H, prior to the death and no professional observed anything that would indicate he was at risk of physical harm.
But the report outlined a series of lessons to be learned.
Information about Miss Tompsett's history and possible mental health risks was not passed on to the family's health visitor by a midwife, meaning her initial assessment didn't take those matters into account.
It was also found police told health professionals about the domestic abuse incidents, but Leo's school only heard about them from the father, meaning they only had a partial view and possibly were less aware of the risks posed by the mother.
A programme is being rolled out by the force to ensure schools across the county are updated about any domestic abuse incident within 24 hours.
Furthermore, reviewers found the risk assessment tool used in domestic abuse cases has "insufficient focus" on emotional abuse and mental health issues, is too focussed on the risk of physical harm and does not sufficiently address concerns over coercion and control.
The report also notes, at least initially, Mr Woodhams didn't see himself as a victim of domestic abuse and as a result, professionals may have "under-estimated the risks and did not fully explore all safeguarding concerns regarding [Miss Tompsett] particularly in relation to her role as a counsellor".
Miss Tompsett's older children described her as a "narcissist", with the report saying such parents are exclusively and possessively close to their children and may be envious of, and threatened by, their growing independence, which could result in the child being considered to exist solely to fulfil the parent's wishes and needs.
A potential explanation for the homicide-suicide, the report said, was spousal revenge intended to hurt her ex-partner; a theory that could be supported by the death having occurred on Father’s Day.
Gill Rigg, the independent chair of KSCB said: “This is a tragic case, and the KSCB has thoroughly, independently and openly reviewed the circumstances of Child H’s life and death.
"The board's role and function has always been, and remains, totally committed to continually improving the protection of vulnerable children and young people in Kent" - Gill Rigg
"This is to ensure that all lessons are learned so that improvements are made to multi-agency working in future safeguarding cases.
"As a result of their contributions to the SCR, the relevant partners have drawn up individual recommendations and action plans for improving the way they continue to work to protect children in the future.
“The report also has recommended a number of multi-agency actions to be overseen by the KSCB to make sure that action is taken, as needed.
"This is crucial as part of helping improve the safety and wellbeing of Kent children. These have already been implemented and lessons learned.
“The KSCB’s role and function has always been, and remains, totally committed to continually improving the protection of vulnerable children and young people in Kent.”
Mr Woodhams told the inquest in May: “I can’t begin to explain how this feels to know I’ve lost my son. Things will never be the same again for me or the rest of my family.”
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