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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

15 JUL 2014

London Borough of Waltham Forest v F and Others [2014] EWFC 14

London Borough of Waltham Forest v F and Others [2014] EWFC 14
(Family Court, Keehan J, 2 July 2014)

Prohibited steps order – Contact – Mother killed by father – Special guardianship order granted – Child’s best interests

The full judgment is available below

A special guardianship order was granted in favour of the maternal aunt and uncle of the 3-year-old child whose mother had been stabbed to death by the father. The local authority made an oral application at the end of the welfare hearing for a prohibited steps order preventing the father from having or making contact with the child.

The father’s representative opposed the application on the basis that he had not had notice and that a formal application should be issued.

Evidence from a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist was given that it was not in the child’s best interests to have contact with the father.

The judge found that it was entirely unnecessary and disproportionate to require a formal application to be made and that a further hearing was wasteful of scare public funding resources.

The PSO was in the child’s best interests to protect her from unauthorised contact by the father. The father was given leave to make submissions to vary or discharge the order. The order enabled the special guardians to permit further contact if it fitted with the child’s therapeutic needs. It was vital to the child’s emotional and psychological well being that any contact with the father was strictly controlled.


The fully referenced, judicially approved judgment and headnote will appear in a forthcoming issue of Family Law Reports. A detailed summary and analysis of the case will appear in Family Law.

This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

Case No: UO13C00129

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWFC 14
IN THE FAMILY COURT
SITTING AT THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 02/07/2014

Before :

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE KEEHAN
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Between :

LONDON BOROUGH OF WALTHAM FOREST Applicant

- and -

(1) F
(2) C (By her Children’s Guardian)
(3) MU Respondent

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ms Barbara Mills (instructed by London Borough of Waltham Forest) for the Applicant
Ms Sarah Branson (instructed by Aitken Harter) for the First Respondent
Ms Sylvia Allen (instructed by CAFCASS) for the Second Respondent
Mr Cyrus Larizadeh (instructed by Burke Niazi) for the Third Respondent
Ms Rebecca Mitchell (instructed by Goodman Ray) for S and R

Hearing dates: 24 June 2014

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Judgment

Mr Justice Keehan :


[1]  This judgment should be read with the judgment I gave in this matter on 24 June 2014 : [2014] EWFC 13.

[2]  At the conclusion of the hearing on 24 June, the local authority made an oral application for a prohibited steps order against F preventing him from having or making contact with C.

[3]  At his request, F was not present in court to hear the judgment. His counsel opposed the application for a prohibited steps order on the ground that F had not had notice of the same. Further it was submitted that the local authority should issue a formal application and there should be a further inter parties' hearing.

[4]  C was present when F violently attacked the mother. He was convicted of the murder of C’s mother. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term, before he may apply for parole, of 21 years. C is 3 years of age.

[5]  The consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist instructed in this matter, Dr J, has advised that contact between F and C is not in the child’s best interests. She recommended contact be limited to F sending a card to C once per year; that recommendation was accepted by all parties. Any additional contact was to be dictated by C's therapeutic needs.

[6]  I considered it to be entirely unnecessary and disproportionate to require the local authority to file a formal application for a PSO and that a further hearing was wasteful of scarce public funding resources.

[7]  I considered the order sought to be in the best interests of C to protect her from any unauthorised contact by F now or in the future. I gave Ms Branson, counsel for F, leave to make written submissions seeking to vary or discharge the order once she had had the opportunity to take F's instructions. I received submission by email on 27 June 2014 and 30 June 2014. I have read and carefully considered the same.

[8]  The final form of the PSO which I approved reads as follows:

“Apart from the yearly letter/card he is at liberty to send to C, the father is forbidden from making or attempting to make any contact whatsoever with C whether directly or indirectly except in circumstances where he is specifically asked to do so by the special guardians and it is deemed necessary for C’s therapeutic needs. Any such request made by the special guardians should be in writing in the first instance for the avoidance of any doubt.”

[9]  The terms of the order enable the special guardians, S and R, to permit further contact between C and F if it is in accord with her therapeutic needs.

[10]  This restriction is entirely consistent with the opinions and recommendations of Dr J. C is a vulnerable child who has suffered the tragic loss of her mother at the hands of her father. It is vital to her emotional and psychological well being that any contact with F is very strictly controlled.

[11]  As I expressed in my judgment of 24 June, I am in no doubt that S and R are well able to care for C and to provide for all of her needs.

[12]  I am wholly satisfied that it is in C’s welfare best interests for a PSO to be made in the terms sought.

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