The Family Court has placed two children of a man convicted of murder in the care of their mother.
In August 2013, the father murdered a friend while on holiday with the children, who are now nine and twelve years old. He was helped by the children’s step-brother. They were subsequently arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for “lengthy terms”.
Meanwhile the mother was convicted of perverting the course of justice, sent to prison and was released early. Between the murder and the convictions, the mother became involved with a local gang which handled stolen goods. She claims this was motivated by a desire “to fund Christmas for the children”. However, unspecified problems arose between her and the gang so, in order to escape the possibility of becoming a target, she took the children and moved home.
During this time, the children “experienced enormous upheaval” in their lives. Prior to her criminal trial, the mother agreed for them to be placed in the local authority’s care. Following the mother’s release, a child and adolescent psychiatrist was appointed to assess her and the children.
Although the doctor initially favoured the idea of keeping the children in their foster placement, she changed her mind after observing the mother’s behaviour. Sitting at the Family Court in East London, Her Honour Judge Purkiss explained that the doctor “thought that the quality of contact between the children and their mother was – in her words – very good”.
In the doctor’s assessment, “the mother had very good insight and demonstrated a very good capacity to meet the children’s needs” and she recommended that the children be returned to their mother’s care. She also said it was “important for the local authority to remain involved for a period of time” in order to monitor the transition.
Judge Purkiss was convinced by the doctor’s recommendations and so made a child arrangements order which placed the children with their mother as well as a supervision order which would allow the local authority to monitor the family’s progress.
To read Local Authority A v M & Ors, click here.
Photo by chrisphoto via Flickr