WINNIPEG - A Manitoba social worker says she held out hope that Samantha Kematch could regain custody of her daughter, despite a history of violence and abuse.

Marnie Saunderson testified today at the public inquiry into Phoenix Sinclair, Kematch's five-year-old daughter who died after being beaten and neglected by Kematch and her boyfriend.

Saunderson was the worker who seized Phoenix days after she was born and has testified that Kematch had been abused as a child, had been involved in gangs and car theft, and had no interest in parenting.

Phoenix was taken into care by child and family services, but Saunderson said the aim was to help Kematch and possibly have her regain custody of her daughter.

Kematch eventually regained custody of Phoenix and social workers closed her case file.

Months later, Kematch and her boyfriend beat Phoenix to death in the basement of the family's home on the Fisher River reserve north of Winnipeg.