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Family Law

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16 OCT 2012

Sutton v Gray and Others (No 1) [2012] EWHC 2604 (Fam)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2013] 1 FLR 833]

(Family Division, Hogg J, 12 October 2012) 

When 7 weeks old the, now 5-year-old, child suffered a collapse, intracranial, retinal bleedings and previously had suffered burns to her fingers and head while in her father's care. A fact-finding hearing found the father responsible for the non-accidental injuries and that the mother had failed to protect the child. The father was also found guilty under s 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and s 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 but the conviction was subsequently quashed on appeal.

The child was placed with the maternal grandparents under a special guardianship order and had contact with the parents. When the mother fell pregnant again the parents concealed the pregnancy from the authorities and moved to a different area. Six months after the child was born the child and her mother were traced and the child was removed under a police protection order and had since remained in foster care.

The local authority now sought care and placement orders in respect of the second child due to a risk of physical and emotional harm. The parents opposed the application on the basis that the father's convictions had been quashed.

On the medical evidence the local authority failed to prove its case and there was too much strong evidence flowing the other way. Furthermore the parents could provide an innocent explanation which was a medical possibility for all the injuries the 5 year old had suffered. An interim contact was made for the meantime until judgment on a future care plan could be given.

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