2 FLR 466
Grievous bodily harm caused to child by father – Serious brain damage – Mother not implicated – Whether mother’s isolation and risk of further association with violent men sufficient to justify care order.
Shortly after the child was born, the mother left him in the care of the father. The mother had previously suffered multiple incidents of domestic assault prior to the birth of the child. Upon her return the child’s presentation led the mother to be concerned and the child was taken to hospital where he was found to have significant marks and bruises and a subsequent scan revealed extensive brain damage.
The father was arrested and ultimately charged with having caused grievous bodily harm to the child. He later entered a guilty plea and received a custodial sentence of eight years in prison.
Following the child’s discharge from hospital, the mother and child entered a residential parenting assessment unit. She was assessed positively in terms of her ability to meet the child’s care needs. Following their return home the mother was seen to parent her son well in terms of both his practical and emotional needs.
At the final hearing the local authority sought a care order and this position was supported by the guardian. The local authority submitted that the mother was vulnerable to relationships in the future that may be marred by violence. Although the local authority had agreed to a provision to the effect that they would not remove the child from her care without a court order save for in an emergency, it was the mother’s case that she had demonstrated her ability to adequately care for the child and therefore a supervision order was more appropriate.
The court concluded that there should be a supervision order for one year as this was proportionate to the risks presented. The court found that the mother would sufficiently protect the child and co-operate without having to share parental responsibility with the local authority.
Practice AreasCare Proceedings