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August 12, 2009

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Evil mother of tortured tot unmasked

BRITONS got their first look yesterday at the mother behind a horrific child death that shocked the country.

The face of 28-year-old Tracey Connelly, who stood by as her infant son Peter was tortured for months on end, stared out from the front pages of Britain's newspapers under headlines which read: "Unmasked" and "Out of the Darkness."

Accompanying articles described the hideous abuse suffered by her son at the hands of her boyfriend Steven Barker, a Nazi memorabilia collector who tortured animals and was convicted of raping a girl, 2.

To the sickening details was added the suggestion that Connelly, Barker, and his brother Jason Owen - all three of whom were sentenced for causing or allowing Peter's death last year - could receive new identities and years of police protection to protect them from an angry public.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper estimated such a program might cost taxpayers 1 million pounds (US$1.6 million) a year.

"If either of them is still notorious, then there will clearly be a risk that they may be the subject of a vigilante-style attack," said Harry Fletcher, the assistant general secretary of Britain's probation officers' union, Napo.

In such a case, Fletcher said, "the probation service and police will have no choice but to put in place a protection plan."

The details of Peter's death chilled the nation when they were first reported last year. The 17-month-old's body was found by paramedics in his blood-spattered cot. He had suffered dozens of injuries, including bruises, fractured ribs, and a broken back.

When it emerged that the Peter had been visited some 60 times by doctors, police and social workers before his death, public fury exploded at child welfare services in the north London borough of Haringey where he lived.


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