Family law judge determines child’s injuries were inflicted

Family Law|August 14th 2014

A judge in the Family Court has ruled that the injuries suffered by a four year old boy were inflicted by either his mother or her partner.

In Re E & Anor, the mother met her partner in April 2013. A few months later, they got a house and moved in together. Not long afterwards, he was undertaking most of the childcare for her two sons.

The partner came from a large family, so was used to taking care of small children. The mother is a nursery nurse who “has been described as very good at her job”.

In February, one of the children, identified as ‘R’ in the judgment, was taken to hospital shortly after the mother had returned from work. R had a broken finger, several bruises and a head injury.

Sitting in the Family Court in Derby, His Honour Judge Orrell said that the bruising R suffered was “excessive for a child of this age” and that his injuries required an explanation.

The mother and her partner accepted that the injuries had occurred while they were both in the house but denied responsibility for them. Both claimed to have been alerted when R’s older brother shouted that he had fallen to the floor, after which they took him to the hospital.

Additionally, the mother said that R’s broken finger had been caused by her accidentally standing on his hand when she had rushed to his side.

A doctor who examined R said “there is no reported accidental head injury of sufficient force which occurs in the relevant time period … to cause the intracranial injuries found”. He concluded that the injury was most likely inflicted. As for the broken finger, the doctor said he “could not exclude” the mother’s explanation.

Judge Orrell was more sceptical, as the mother had not offered it as an explanation until her cross-examination. He said it was “impossible to accept” that she had not thought to mention it sooner than she did.

The judge added that, as the injuries to R undoubtedly happened while both adults were in the house, “both of them know exactly what took place” but have declined to come forward with that information.

Therefore, he concluded that R’s injuries were inflicted by either the mother or her partner. If not, they had “signally failed to protect” him.

The family law judge said it would be in the children’s best interests to live with their father. He added that the mother’s contact with them should be supervised and that they have no contact at all with the her partner.

To read the full judgment, click here.

Photo of Derby by John Bennett via Flickr

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