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Children of convicted rapist put up for adoption

The children of a man convicted of rape and sexual assault have been put up for adoption, despite their mother’s appeal.

In M & Ors v Suffolk County Council, the Ipswich County Court made care and placement orders regarding the children due to concerns about the mother’s mental health and the history of domestic violence in the home.

A care order gives social services parental responsibility over the children, and a placement order gives the local authority permission to seek a permanent adoptive home for them.

The father was convicted on charges of rape and sexual assault against the mother in 2012 and is currently serving a prison sentence.

Despite her being the victim of domestic violence, the mother was described as “wholly self centred” by the judge in the initial care hearing.

He also said she could easily lose her temper and could occasionally become “overly assertive, controlling and abusive”. Another cause for concern was her failure to protect the children from the domestic violence inflicted by their father.

In an attempt to keep the children with their family, the maternal grandparents applied to be named their permanent carers.

The original judge described the maternal grandparents as committed to each other and to the children.

However, he also found that they had “adopted a non-interventionist approach” when the children’s father turned up to a family holiday before his conviction. The judge also said that the grandmother was unable to emotionally challenge her daughter and would struggle to enforce boundaries.

Ultimately, the judge rejected them as carers and made orders to begin the process of adoption.

The mother and her family took the case to the Court of Appeal, saying the original judge was wrong to make that decision.

Lord Justices Ryder, Vos and Tomlinson heard the appeal. They noted that the original judge had made “explicit reference” to Re B (A child), a Supreme Court judgment which said taking a child away from its biological family should be a last resort.

They ruled that the judge had “specifically cautioned himself” against a simple “comparative best interests balance” and had made his decision using the Supreme Court’s own language: “will nothing else other than adoption do?”

Lord Justice Ryder decided that, having looked closely at the Ipswich County Court judge’s welfare analysis, his decision had been correct. Lord Justices Vos and Tomlinson agreed.

As a result, they dismissed the appeal.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. liz says:

    When will judges work out that the dynamics of domestic violence unfortunately in this case combined with rape that a women does not leave because she is petrified. The abuser isolates her and damages her self esteem so much that she can not think straight, which is his goal. Yes I do know it happens to men as well , but it is rarer as they tend to be physically stronger and if the women has children her financial independence is diminished.
    Once again a women is twice victimised. This is disgraceful and against the laws of justice.

    • Stitchedup says:

      There are indications in this case that the domestic violence is both ways, note the comment form the judge:

      “Despite her being the victim of domestic violence, the mother was described as “wholly self centred” by the judge in the initial care hearing.

      He also said she could easily lose her temper and could occasionally become “overly assertive, controlling and abusive”.”

      In other words she is guilty of domestic violence herself even though she may not be physically as strong as the father, that said I see no evidence offered that the man has battered the woman assuming the sexual assault and rape did not involve battery. So it would seem reasonable to question why she too hasn’t been convicted, perhaps the rape/sexual assault charges against the father trumped her domestic violence??

      There is concern about the Mother’s mental health but I see no assertion or evidence being put forward that her mental health issues are as a result of domestic violence; it may be she had mental health issues before entering into the relationship with the father.

  2. Carole Jahme says:

    I’ve followed this shameful case for a couple of years. it’s wholly wrong the children have been taken from the mother. all the mother & her children needed was support. children are damaged when taken away from their mothers. why doesn’t the state act to support people? In 99% of cases strangers, no matter how well meaning, do not have greater insight than a mum into her child’s needs. Ripping mums & children apart causes damage that lasts a lifetime. The LA is this case seemed pathologically driven to steal the children at any cost. Mothers are hard wired to put their children first, if a mother needs support help her – don’t steal her children.

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