The High Court has declared a mother responsible for injuries to one of her two children.
In A council v LG and others, a local authority launched care proceedings for a six year-old girl and a four year old sister. It claimed their mother had fabricated illnesses in the children and also physically abused them.
The mother accepted the authority’s claims about fabricated illness but denied the allegations of physical abuse.
A fact-finding hearing was held before Mr Justice Keehan to determine whether or not the mother had told the truth about three injuries – an occasion when the six year-old, referred to as ‘GS’, suffered bone fractures, and two other occasions when the younger girl, LS, also suffered bone fractures and a wound to her abdomen.
In each case the mother denied responsibility for the injuries.
A consultant psychiatrist discussed the woman’s background, saying she showed she showed evidence of a borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality traits and pathological untruthfulness. He diagnosed her with ‘factitious disorder by proxy’ – a psychological disorder in which a person fakes illnesses in others.
Mr Justice Keehan noted that factious disorder by proxy is rarely associated with physical abuse. He carefully examined the accounts given by the mother of three injuries, checking for inconsistencies.
He declared that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the mother had been responsible for the injury to GS, but that she had lied about the circumstances surrounding the two injuries to LS.
“The evidence and presentation of the mother at this hearing and the findings I have made lead me to conclude that the mother poses a grave risk of physical, emotional and psychological harm to her children. Her failure to give a truthful account of past events and her failure to be honest and that she continues to lie, complicates an assessment of the degree of risk she poses, but in my judgment it is a high risk.
I find it difficult to see how, without some significant change in the mother, that risk can be ameliorated or reduced to a manageable or acceptable level. In acting as I have found the mother has she has failed to act as one would expect of a loving, caring, and protective parent.”
To read the judgement, please click here.