Two-year-old Romario Mullings-Sewell and three-month old brother Delayno were stabbed to death in their home despite police being warned that their mother was acting strangely
BRITISH police were once more facing serious questions last night about their handling of concerns over the welfare of a troubled family which ended with a baby and toddler being stabbed to death, allegedly by their mother.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), called in to conduct an investigation, will ask why officers took an hour to arrive on the doorstep after an alarm was raised by a health professional about the mother's troubled state of mind.
While the officers, who initially found the house deserted and locked, were out and about searching, Jael Mullings (21) was able to slip home with the two children, Romario, aged two, and his three-month-old brother Delayno, and allegedly stab them to death in the abdomen.
Their bodies were found by a family member in the three-bed roomed council house in the inner city Cheetham Hill area of Manchester shortly before 6pm on Wednesday. They were, the family member said, "beautiful and innocent".
Their mother, who was seen to be behaving in an erratic and distressed manner earlier in the day, was initially arrested on suspicion of murder but has since been sectioned under the British Mental Health Act.
It emerged that Ms Mullings was known to social services but she was not thought to be a risk. Social workers were not currently working with the family.
The children's father, who is separated from the mother, said in a statement: "This family had two beautiful, innocent children, called Romario and Delayno. We, as a family, are struggling to come to terms with the tragic events of yesterday afternoon and we cannot even begin to understand what happened. Everybody is completely devastated. We hope that wherever the boys have gone to they are at peace."
The deaths have led to an anguished inquest by senior officers at Greater Manchester Police. Detective Superintendent Shaun Donnellan revealed that the initial alarm about the woman's behaviour was raised by a neighbour after an overheard conversation.
At 1.50pm police received another phone call from a member of the health service, possibly a GP, expressing concern for the family's welfare. An hour later police officers rang the doorbell to find nobody at home, and a local search proved fruitless.
In the following three hours there were sightings of the mother pushing the buggy around the local area.
At 5.45pm police officers were at the children's grandmother's house, when they were called by paramedics responding to an emergency at the house. The mother was subsequently arrested "around the corner".
Mr Donnellan said that the matter has been referred to the IPCC, the independent police watchdog, "as a matter of course".
He said: "This is a tragedy. There are two children dead. They appear to be the victims of a fatal attack and the mother is being detained under the Mental Health Act". Neighbours on the inner-city estate knew Ms Mullings as a woman who could be abrupt but was regarded as a conscientious mother. She had only moved into the council property earlier this year.
Witnesses saw her behaving in an odd and alarming manner in Cheetham Village earlier in the day less than half a mile from their home. Sandra Barnes (41) said: "I was in the village when she walked past me. She was screaming and shouting at everybody. I could not understand what she was saying.
"She was mumbling, and then shouting and screaming in people's faces."
A spokesman for the IPCC said: "We will be asking what the police were told, what the concerns were, what the officers did, and decide whether there's anything there to take forward into an investigation."