A two year-old girl brought to the UK from Latvia was sexually abused, the High Court has found.
In Re: V (A Child), ‘LV’ had been born in the Baltic country but was brought to the UK in May last year. The mother was just 15 when she met LV’s father, who is three years older. She is now 19.
The mother lived with both parents for the first year of her life. In August 2013, the mother travelled to the UK to find work. The father initially planned to follow her, bringing LV with her, but later changed his mind and told the mother that he had found a new partner in Latvia He and his new partner looked after his daughter for a period while L mother remained in England.
Later LV was sent to live with her great grandmother, until the latter died, then with her maternal grandmother while her mother continued working in England. Finally, in May last year, LV’s own mother returned to Latvia, collected her daughter, then aged 21 months old, and took her back to the UK.
By that point, the mother had become involved with a man referred to in the judgement as ‘Mr A’. He lived in Manchester and had remained in this country illegally when his student visa expired. The mother was working in Lincolnshire at the time but later moved to live with Mr A.
She sought work, leaving her daughter in the care of Mr A for long periods, and sometimes with another Latvian mother. In September last year, this second mother called social services after finding multiple bruises on LV after the mother had left her to be looked after. The infant was taken to hospital where doctors found no less than 41 injuries.
Two days later she was released from hospital and placed in foster care. Her mother is now only allowed to see her twice a week under supervision.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson conducted a fact-finding hearing into the injuries at the Family Court in Manchester. Mr A accepted the local authority’s contention that he had caused the physical injuries by assaulting the child on a number of occasions and concealing his actions from the mother.
The mother admitted to neglecting LV’s needs, but also claimed she had no real idea of her boyfriend’s actions. The judge noted evidence that she had a learning disability and appeared “somewhat naïve and guileless”.
When LV was taken into care, however, doctors also found clear physical evidence that she had been sexually abused. Mr Justice Peter Jackson noted that:
“…the suspicion that is bound to fall on Mr A, based upon his persistent cruelty to this child…”
However, the dates when the injuries had most likely been inflicted did not coincide neatly with the periods in which the girl and her mother had been living with him. Consequently it could not be stated with certainty that Mr A was responsible for the sexual abuse.
The local authority therefore did not invite the judge to make any findings of responsibility for the this abuse and he accepted this. The Judge did, however, state that:
“During L’s short life she has passed through many hands. She has lived with her parents together, with her father and his new partner, with her great-grandmother, with her grandmother (all in Latvia), and with her mother in England and her mother and Mr A in England, and she has been left with countless unknown third parties both in Latvia and in England.”
A further hearing will be held in May on future arrangements for LV’s care.
The judgement is here.
Photo of Manchester Town Hall by Mark Andrew via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence