Four sisters to be taken into care following abuse

Family Law|July 5th 2017

The four daughters of a dysfunctional family in Oxfordshire should be placed for adoption a court has ruled.

The sisters in question were aged 11, eight, five and two at the time of the hearing. They were removed from their mother and taken into foster care in November last year, but she had been allowed to visit them twice a week. The two oldest girls and the youngest have a different father to the third. The latter’s biological father is not involved in her life and she sees the father of her three sisters, who is currently in prison, as hers too.

The family has been known to the local authority since the oldest girl was born. Social workers became increasingly concerned that the sisters were being neglected by their mother and living in poor conditions which included exposure to domestic violence and “risky” individuals visiting their mother. Their school attendance was patchy.

Finally, in September last year, the second daughter claimed her father had sexually abused her, triggering the children’s removal into temporary foster care. The father was recalled to prison, having recently been released.

The local authority applied for the girls to be formally taken into long term care and placed for adoption. The oldest two would be placed separately and the youngest two together.

In the Family Court at Oxford His Honour Judge Vincent noted:

“The mother loves each of her daughters dearly and they love her in return.  She seeks the return of all four of her daughters to her care.  She says the proceedings have been a ‘wake-up call’ and she has made positive changes to her life as a result.”

As a fall-back position, the mother asked the court to consider at least allowing the youngest two girls to return to her care, saying she’d able to continue visiting the older two in foster care.

Meanwhile, the father insisted that the alleged sexual abuse had never taken place. But he accepted that he could not properly take care of the girls and so supported the local authority’s care plan.

In a concise ruling, the Judge noted that the burden of proof lay with the authority. They had to prove the father’s guilt. Nevertheless, on a balance of probabilities he concluded that they had in fact done so and the abuse had indeed occurred – in spite of the fact that the daughter had since recanted the claim. Amongst the various reasons cited, he found the girl’s original testimony compelling and believed her mother had coached into withdrawing the allegations. She may, said the Judge, also have been motivated by feelings of guilt about her father’s subsequent imprisonment.

Judge Vincent therefore declared:

“I have come to the conclusion that I should approve the local authority’s care plans and make care orders in respect of all four girls.  The local authority’s plans have been reached by an experienced social worker exercising her professional judgment diligently and based on a sound evidence base, built up from her own experience of the children and the family dynamics, and from other relevant sources.”

Read A B C and D (fact-finding and welfare) here.

Photo by Roger Meyer via Flickr

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  1. Paul says:

    Since when do we make judgements based on the balance of probablities ? – this is an issue which occours in ‘closed door’ courts.
    Making a judgement based on balance of probabilities is a whole differnt game than making judgements based on evidence. An judgements ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’
    If there is any doubt about this mans innocence then surely he should be treated as such until he is ‘proven’ Guilty.
    A judgement based on ‘balance of probablilities is by definition accepting that a ‘peecentage’ of these judgements are going to be completly wrong. A percentage of innocent people are going to suffer the consequences of law.
    This case is an example of man convicted on the back of an ‘accusation’ clearly not supported by any evidence.
    The action to protect the child is deemed more important than the mans right to be found innocent and all the stigma which comes with that.
    The implications of this are appauling.
    We know as a fact women lie to get their partners in trouble. (Thats a fact)
    We know children lie, exagerate, give conflicting or confusing evidence. (Thats a fact)
    To what extent does this knowledge factor in to a decission make based on -balance of probabilities.
    Is their a 10% chance mother is lying ?
    Is their a 20% chance the childs evidence is inaccurate.
    What figures are judges using to work out these percentages ?
    Because with the right studies we can get acturial scientists to work out these probabilities.
    To my mind if I weighed up these probabilities. From my life experience. It is more likely that the woman has made up a story and coached the child to follow her lead. Unless of course this man has implicated himself in some way incourt of course.
    Balance of probabilities is a terrible way to make judgements. No judge should be doing that. On balance of probabilities there is a high chance that a lot of judges lack life experience and make wrong decissions based on ill conceived probabilities.

    • Cameron Paterson says:

      Hi Paul: as a ‘finding of fact’ hearing in a family court, this was a civil case and therefore a lower standard of proof applied. It did not result in the father being ‘convicted’, just in the children being taken into care. Any prison time he served would have been a separate criminal matter to which the higher ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ applied

      • Paul says:

        See that is exactly the problem i faced. I overcome my criminal conviction for harassment on appeal. The judge in family court said in his closing statement said on balance of probabilities he thinks harasment did take place. So what was the point of appealing the criminal conviction if I can still be treated like I commited the crime in the family court ?
        There was no standards of evidence.
        There was not evidence at all.
        No evidence at all in the criminal court and no evidence in the family court.
        So how can you claim that is down to differnt standards of evidence ?
        Thats just an excuse to find any man guilty of anything at anytime.
        Basicly a judge in family court is making judgements based on ‘nothing’ nothing but gut instincts.
        How do you reffer to that as justice ?
        Thats just abserd.

        • Cameron Paterson says:

          Unfortunately that’s just the way the system works. ‘Findings of fact’ and criminal convictions are two separate things

          • Paul says:

            Im sorry you feel that way Cameron. Im inclined to think the exact opposite. This is a clear example of how our system does not work and is destroying thousands of fathers completly unnessisarilly and indiscriminantly.
            Absolutly no facts were examined in my case. No evidence was presented. Nobody can produce any evidence of wrong doing. But I am not aloud contact with my kids. Cards only. How is that even possible in a court which is fair and balanced ? – There is nothing unfortunate about it. This the way this system is designed. It is state abuse. It is state tyrany.
            Don’t be sorry. Speak up. Change it.
            All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
            Did you start practicing law so you could see thousands of honest me be labled as abusers or as molesters. To see honest men seperated from their kids for no reason.
            Men bankcrupt and commiting suicide.
            Is money that important you are happy to see that take place?

          • Cameron Paterson says:

            I don’t practice law, Paul. I am not a solicitor

          • Paul says:

            Could you invite some who does to contribute ? – so the content we post is literally only been viewed by us our own amusement. What a shame.
            It would actually be a very good article to ask a practicing family law professional to view our concerns and ask a few legal what they feel about these comments ?

          • Nan says:

            In case my comments is unclear. To many are dying where serious allegations are being allowed through the family courts but not charges sometimes not questioned just allegations or files moved over to that person. Should those be thankful they can only get a letter? What about those who get nothing and are ripped from loving fathers/mothers/grandparents just on hear say from the “expert “ ? The child pays at a very high price weather stuck in a system or adopted with several different number cases? We shall say no more!
            It completely destroys families/lives and suffering is endless. It needs reforming drastically especially for those who has never been to court to be aware , what’s been allowed to happen .

  2. Nana says:

    There are some disturbing cases out there. However easy to copy and paste on other families as many witnesses.which spoils it for the few that do a good job,showing the incompetence and lack of capacity by many.
    The burden of proof, a few can just copy and paste also out of other files or edit documents,putting none related cases into procedures,once that’s done and your evidence is over. Game over, it’s supp to be innocent until proven guilty, and it’s up to public services to provide that,acting unlawful should they then be held accountable? Especially when you read cases like this or if not worse? Of course they should.

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