THE social worker allocated to Baby Peter's case went more than three weeks without visiting the at-risk toddler, a misconduct committee heard today.

Former Haringey employee, Maria Ward, was handed the case in February 2007, and was involved with 17-month-old Peter Connelly until his death in August the same year.

Marios Lambis, lawyer representing the GSCC, said: "It can be said that the death of Peter was an eminently avoidable tragedy.

"The abuse of Peter Connelly was allowed to persist due to a failure of Haringey social services to learn from past mistakes."

Despite being fully aware he was on the council's children at-risk register, in that six-month period she was supposed to be protecting him, there was a four-month backlog of notes on his case.

Under the plan, Miss Ward was required to make announced and unannounced visits to the family home in Penshurst Avenue, Tottenham, at least every two weeks.

But the General Social Care Council heard today that she went 22 days without any contact at all.

For four of those days, Miss Ward had no "precise idea" where Baby Peter was, but accepted his mother Tracey Connelly's excuse that she had taken him to Cricklewood while she cared for a sick uncle.

Mr Lambis said neither she, nor her team manager Gillie Christou, made any effort to check the validity of these claims.

And despite calling Tracey Connelly to "prioritise the needs of her children" and return to the borough, the 28-year-old ignored them, but nothing ever came of the flagrant breach.

Mr Lambis said the lack of frequency in announced and unannounced visits meant that vital opportunities to get a picture of what was happening in the house was missed.

When home visits were made, Mr Lambis said, the "quality" of them was not satisfactory.

Haringey Council children's services policy is for social workers to spend time alone with a child, but at every visit made to the house, Connelly was always present and ready to "offer excuses" about Peter's injuries.

Opportunities to discover that Connelly's boyfriend Stephen Barker and his brother Jason Owen were also living at the property were missed because Miss Ward did not look around the house.

He said: "Had Maria Ward ventured into the house further during an unannounced visit, it would have been apparent Stephen Barker, and Jason Owen were living in the house and that Peter was being abused.

"When she requested to see Peter, Tracey would not let her go up to his bedroom, and instead woke him and brought him downstairs.

"Concern should have been raised about her reluctance to let her explore further into the house."

Mrs Christou, who had been present at the very first child protection conference, following injuries being discovered on Peter's body in December 2006, failed to ensure Miss Ward followed the child protection plan to the required standard.

The four-month backlog of notes was missed, the lack of frequent visits was missed, and at a meeting between the pair, Mrs Christou did not carry out an analysis of risk or set any targets or timescales.

Both social workers, who in a letter read out by their joint legal representative Nick Toms claimed they entered the profession to "care for" children like Peter, failed to find a suitable replacement childminder for him during the last weeks of his short life.

Because of this, he was returned to his mother's full-time care, and sustained injuries including seven fractured ribs, someone removing his fingernails and toenails, and having his tooth knocked out – which he swallowed.

Mr Lambis said the increase in the ferocity of the violence, and the lack of a childminder were linked.

A committee has now retired to consider whether the facts of the case, admitted by both of the registrants, amounts to misconduct.

If misconduct is found, the pair face being struck off the register and barred from the profession.