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21 SEP 2010

CARE: Staffordshire County Council v VW [2009] EWHC 1982 (Fam)

(Family Division; McFarlane J; 28 July 2009)

The local authority claimed that certain of the child's unique symptoms were the result of rough handling by the family and applied for a care order.

Two weeks into a hospital stay, x-rays revealed fractures to the ribs and legs as well as swelling in the head. The family argued that the fractures were a result of physical interventions by the medical team. Previous scans/x-rays during the hospital stay had shown no injury to the skull or ribs.

It was not necessary for court to make positive findings on possible causes of the injury, just to decide whether on balance of probability they were caused by the family.  

There was a possibility that staff had held child down in order to keep a medical tube in while the child was having a fit. The court established that the hospital records and recollection were not as good as they should have been and there was no evidence that the head swelling was caused non-accidentally.

The court made positive findings as to parents' credibility. None of the allegations relied upon by the local authority were proved. It followed that the statutory threshold criteria in Children Act 1989, s 31 was not satisfied with respect to the child and the local authority's application for a care order was dismissed.


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