Opportunities missed to help mother who drowned twins, parents say

The parents of a mother who drowned her toddler twins have said there were “missed opportunities” to help their daughter as a coroner ruled the deaths as unlawful killing.

Samantha Ford killed her 23-month-old children Jake and Chloe on Boxing Day 2018 at her home in Castle Drive, Margate, Kent, after her split from their father Steven Ford a few months beforehand.

Mr Justice Edis sentenced Ford to 10 years at the Old Bailey in August 2019, to be served in a psychiatric unit.

She had denied murder but admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

Following a week-long inquest which heard that Ford suffered an acute stress reaction to the ending of her marriage, coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks reached a conclusion of unlawful killing.

Dr Robert Immelman, of the Charing Practice, described how he had a consultation with Ford on December 21 in which she requested an extension of her anti-depressant medication as she was having trouble sleeping.

He said a letter from a mental health service which stated she had been having suicidal thoughts had not been put on her medical file ahead of the consultation, despite having been sent a week earlier.

Tony and Colette Emptage, parents of Ford, said in a statement that their daughter had been suffering from “serious mental illness”.

They said: “The deaths of our grandchildren Chloe and Jake was the worst pain that any family could ever endure, we will never recover from the loss of their precious lives.

“They were beloved and much-wanted children, and evidence given to the coroner has shown that Samantha was a loving and devoted mother to them.

“She adored her children and looked after them as well as any mother could, even while she was struggling severely.”

They continued: “It has been made clear that Samantha repeatedly sought but did not receive the urgent medical help and treatment for her illness that she needed.

Steve Ford
Steve Ford

“We remain concerned that there were missed opportunities for Chloe and Jake.

“Although Samantha repeatedly sought help (speaking to 14 different professionals throughout November and December) she was only seen face to face on two occasions and the only solution appeared to be to prescribe her more and more medication.

“We can only hope that the support networks that are in place to help people suffering the mental distress endured by Samantha will be strengthened to ensure that this can never happen to another family.”

Anna Moore, of Leigh Day solicitors, who represents the family, said: “In the weeks leading up to the deaths of her children, Samantha Ford was suffering a depressive mental illness and reached out to various agencies on a number of occasions seeking help and treatment.

“The family considers that those attempts represented missed opportunities and that those missed opportunities contributed to the children’s deaths.”

Ford is currently detained in a psychiatric hospital until medical experts deem her fit to be moved to prison.