A toddler who had been taken into care after suspicious injuries were discovered could be returned to her parents, a high court judge has ruled, despite the likelihood that one of the parent s caused the fractures.
Sitting in the Family Division, High Court judge Mr Justice Baker said he could not accept the explanation given by the two year-old girl’s parents for the skull and rib fractures which occurred when she was six months old. They claimed she had been hurt in a fall.
The judge said:
“I find that each parent is concealing information and has given a false and misleading account.”
In written findings following a courtroom hearing, Mr Justice Baker concluded:
“It is probable, in my view, that one of the parents is responsible for the injuries and the other is knowingly withholding information so as to protect the perpetrator.”
Nevertheless, the judge sympathised with the parents as they continued a struggle to regain custody,.
“I make these findings only after prolonged thought and with regret and reluctance. I know these parents have endured a great deal of hardship over the past few years.
“I accept that in many other ways the mother and father have been good parents … I accept that they are devoted. I accept that they are desperate to care for [her] again.”
But the findings were not “the end of the story”, the judge continued. Children should, wherever possible, be raised by their parents , so social services involved in the case should now work to try and find ways of returning the girl safely.
“I do not regard these findings as the end of the story,” he added. “All the professionals in the case – the social workers, the guardian and the court – must do what we can to see if [the girl] can soon be safely returned to [her] parents.
“But the primary responsibility now lies with the parents themselves. I urge them, even at this late stage, to be more frank with the court so that we can all understand what happened to [the girl] and work together to ensure that she [is] safe in the future.”
Photo by John Halbrook via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence