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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

09 MAR 2016

Re AD and AM (Fact-Finding Hearing) (Application for Re-Hearing) [2016] EWHC 326 (Fam)

Re AD and AM (Fact-Finding Hearing) (Application for Re-Hearing) [2016] EWHC 326 (Fam)

(Family Division, Cobb J, 24 February 2016)

Public law children – Fact-finding hearing – New medical evidence – Whether the fact-finding hearing should be re-opened

The mother’s application to re-open a fact-finding hearing on the basis of new medical evidence was allowed.

The 10-month-old child was admitted to hospital in a critical condition with a fractured skull, a subdural haemorrhage and multiple fractured spinal vertebrae. He was discharged from hospital into the care of the grandparents but he was left permanently damaged from his injuries.

The Nigerian mother and father denied responsibility for the injuries. At the time he sustained the injuries the child was in the care of the father who claimed that he had been left with the child's sibling briefly. The child started to cry but settled again. Later on when the mother returned from work she found the child gasping and then saw him stop breathing. The local authority issued care proceedings and a fact-finding hearing was convened.

The court concluded that the mother had caused the injuries which were non-accidental. However, subsequently medical evidence was obtained based upon pathological analysis of a segment of the child's skull which was missing at the time of the fact-finding hearing. The mother applied for a re-opening of the fact-finding hearing submitting that the new evidence suggested the injuries could have been caused by a relatively short fall, particularly when considered alongside evidence of woven bones, thinness of the skull and an alleged vitamin D deficiency. The local authority and the guardian opposed the application.

Applying the well-established principles there were aspects of the newly obtained medical evidence which gave a sufficiently fresh perspective on the evidence previously adduced as to warrant a review. It was sufficient for the mother to demonstrate, as she had, that there was at least doubt around the earlier findings. There were sufficiently solid reasons to permit a limited reconsideration of the earlier findings.

Case No: UO12C00237
Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 326 (Fam)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

Date: 24/02/2016

Before :


THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE COBB

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Re AD & AM (Fact-Finding hearing) (Application for re-hearing)

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

Paul Storey QC & Michael Bailey (instructed by SJ Solicitors) for the Mother
John Tughan QC (instructed by Local Authority solicitor) for the London Borough of Newham
Frank Feehan QC & Fareha Choudhury (instructed by Helen Robins Solicitors) for the Father
Sally Bradley & Julia Townend (instructed by Duncan Lewis) for the Children’s Guardian

Hearing dates: 11, 12 January 2016- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Re AD and AM (Fact-Finding Hearing) (Application for Re-Hearing) [2016] EWHC 326 (Fam)


Judgment
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