Died: March 3, 2012
Age at death: 4
Cause of death: Abuse (Beating, Starvation)
Location: Coventry, West Midlands, England, UK
Daniel Pelka was not autistic. However, like autistic children, he did have trouble communicating--no one spoke his first language, Polish. Teachers and social services did not respond to his emaciated appearance and numerous injuries, allowing him to "fall between the cracks".
Daniel endured months of extreme abuse. He was starved and beaten, force-fed salt, made to perform repeated exercises, isolated, and humiliated. He fought to survive, stealing food from classmates and scavenging it from the trash. The only person who helped Daniel was his sister, not much older than Daniel himself, who slipped him food, helped him sneak into the bathroom to use the toilet, and cuddled with him to comfort him at night.
Daniel died after his stepfather hit him in the head and neglected to seek medical attention for three days while Daniel lay dying on a filthy mattress.
Although Daniel was not autistic, his memorial is on this site because his murderer accused him of being autistic, perhaps in an attempt to justify Daniel's murder to himself.
At the sentencing, wherein Daniel's mother and stepfather were each sentenced to 30 years in prison, the judge made this statement:
Judge's Statement: Pelka Case
Quote from the statement:
"There was further evidence of your real attitude towards Daniel... in your description of him in July, to a colleague at work, as 'all fucked up' and autistic, and not worth beating because he wouldn’t feel pain.
Nevertheless, at the time he started school in September 2011, Daniel was described by the Reception staff as appearing to be a healthy and well cared for little boy. It may be that he had some behavioural or communication difficulties, as you have constantly suggested, though such difficulties as he had are in my view more likely to have been due to your abusive treatment of him rather than to any other cause. They would have warranted, in any event, even greater affection, care and support for Daniel – not less."
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