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Maryam Akhavan-Tabib, Barrister, Coram Chambers
Care Proceedings: Fact-finding hearings
Re G and B (Fact-Finding Hearing)  EWCA Civ 10,  1 FLR 1145, Court of Appeal
The child died at the age of 7 months because a subnormal level of oxygen had restricted the blood supply to the brain. The child had also suffered earlier injuries including a fracture of the arm and damage to the ribs. In care proceedings relating to the child's two older siblings, the local authority sought threshold findings including: (1) a finding that neglectful and harmful parenting practices had been a contributory factor in the child's death; and (2) a finding that the parents had failed to give a clear and consistent account of events leading to the child's hospitalisation. At the hearing, the medical evidence was that the cause of the child's death was unknown. The judge asked whether it had been on balance an unlawful killing to which the expert replied that he had no pathological findings to support such a conclusion, although it was possible. The judge made a note that unlawful killing was probable. The father was refused an adjournment to allow him to obtain medical evidence on this issue. Among the judge's findings was a finding that the child had been unlawfully killed by means of suffocation and a finding that the father was more likely than not to have been the perpetrator. The father appealed.
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