A father who was believed his adopted daughter had been wrongly placed in foster care has lost his appeal against a suspended prison sentence.
In B (A Child) the father believed a decision to make the 16 year-old girl the subject of a care order had been unjust. The girl now lived with the parents of a school friend who had become her foster carers. The father was forbidden from making unauthorised contact with his daughter or from harassing the foster carers.
The father had made a number of attempts to publicise the case and as a result he had also received an injunction forbidding him from seeking any further publicity.
The council decided he had breached these orders on six occasions and took him to court. He admitted the first five breaches but denied the sixth. A judge ruled that he had committed this breach too by sending his daughter a friend request on Facebook. He was given a prison sentence of three months, suspended until his daughter’s 18th birthday provided he did not commit further breaches of either the harassment or publicity injunctions.
The father appealed both the sentence and ruling that he had committed the sixth breach. He also tried to persuade the Court of Appeal to consider his claim that he had been a victim of injustice and maladministration. The court declined to consider these, instead ruling only on the evidence relating to the alleged sixth breach.
The father denied that he had attempted to ‘friend’ his daughter on the social networking site, and argued that the court should not have relied on hearsay evidence from his daughter: she had deleted the alleged message, she claimed. But the appeal court said that hearsay evidence is admissible in court, where its validity could be properly considered, and concluded that the original judge had had sufficient evidence for the ruling.
The court also rejected the father’s second appeal, against the sentence, describing this as “merciful”.
Photo by Elliott Brown via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence