The father of a baby who died in infancy has successfully appealed a finding that he was the sole perpetrator of injuries she suffered before her death.
In Re A, authorities discovered that the child had suffered injuries to her ribs before she died. No charges had been brought following the girl’s death but social services intervened when the girl’s mother became pregnant with a second child. A fact-finding hearing was held to establish the most likely circumstances leading to the death of the first child.
The man was known to have been violent towards family members in the past, and the judge concluded that he was most likely to have been the sole perpetrator of the fractured ribs which preceded the girl’s death.
The original judge also ruled that the man’s mother had been aware that he was responsible for the injury and also that he had asked her son’s partner not to tell the local authority about the domestic violence.
Both the man and his mother appealed.
The Lord Justices Patten, McFarlane and Floyd said the original judge had provided a clear and detailed judgement. However, they concluded, while there was evidence to suggest he may have been responsible, other evidence pointed to the mother, and it was not possible to conclude with any certainty that either parent had been solely responsible for the baby’s injuries.
There was also no evidence to support the conclusion that the man had told his mother he was responsible for the rib fractures or that she had witnessed the assault, and not enough evidence overall to conclude she had firm knowledge that her son was responsible.
The appeal was allowed, with both the mother and father remaining possible perpetrators.