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(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Jackson, Ryder LJJ, 24 April 2013)
Care proceedings took place in relation to two children, aged 5 and 3, initially due to concerns of alleged sexual abuse perpetrated by the father in respect of the mother's nephew. The mother then permitted the father to have unsupervised contact with the children in breach of the local authority agreement.
Although the parents conceded that the threshold had been crossed the local authority pursued findings of sexual abuse due to the father's wish to have unsupervised contact. The judge made findings that the father had sexually abused: his brother when they were children; the mother's nephew; and, his own 5-year-old child. The father claimed that the findings were made against the weight of the evidence and appealed. He further submitted that the judge had failed to provide sufficient reasons for his decision.
In respect of the first ground of appeal, there was insufficient evidence to find that the judge was wrong. However, in relation to the second ground, the judge had provided a judgment of just 4 pages in respect of a 7-day fact-finding hearing and he failed to summarise the evidence in relation to each allegation. The court agreed that was not acceptable, not least because the judgment could not be understood by the lay reader.
The appeal was allowed and the judge was requested to provide further and better particulars of the evidence he had accepted and rejected.
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