Judge rules ‘shaken’ baby could return to parents

Family Law|January 26th 2016

A baby girl who was shaken by her mother could eventually return to her parents’ care, a High Court judge has ruled.

Last January, she was admitted to hospital at the age of eight months. Doctors were told she had fallen backwards and hit her head, but they soon found internal bleeding, casting doubt on the mother’s claims.

The doctors could not be certain that the injuries had not been accidental. However, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that on the balance of probabilities the mother most likely shook the child, as a result of “a momentary loss of control on the part of a frustrated carer”.

Prior to the hospital visit, the mother had been struggling to cope with her daughter’s sleeplessness. The judge suggested that “she may well not have appreciated just how tired she had become throughout long disturbed nights with a fractious child” on top of working during the day.

Social workers at Cumbria County Council wanted to have the girl placed in the care of her maternal grandparents and insisted she could not be returned to the mother. The judge disagreed, saying that the child was “entitled to a full exploration” of the potential for her to go back to her parents. He called for a “detailed, rigorous, creative and fully comprehensive assessment” of the parents and wider family before a decision is made on the girl’s care arrangements.

Mr Justice Hayden described the mother as loving and committed to her daughter’s care, but “she nonetheless struggled to understand [the child’s] needs and her general development”. He also wanted to “emphasise the potential that this couple appear to offer” as parents.

Cumbria County Council v KW is available in full online. Read it here.

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