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Our Non-Accidental Injury Cases

Over the years, our specialist Non-Accidental Department have handled many cases where parents were accused of deliberately harming their children.

 

Here are just some of the cases that they have been involved in:

Re A: In this case we represented a father.  Parents had been accused of causing acute subdural haemorrhages and bilateral retinal haemorrhages in their very young baby by way of trauma of shaking.  The case was heard in the High Court.  A number of medical experts were instructed to assist the Court into the causation of these injuries including a Paediatric Haematologist, Paediatric Neuro-Surgeon, Paediatric Neuro-Radiologist, Neonatologist, Paediatrician and a Paediatric Ophthalmologist.  The child and his sibling were placed in foster care whilst the investigations were undertaken.  The medical experts could not find a medical explanation for the injuries sustained by the child.  During the course of the Finding of Fact Hearing father conceded that he had been reckless with the child throwing him in the air whilst playing with him, got distracted by another child and did not catch the child resulting in the child falling some height onto the bed.  The Court found that the cause of the injuries were accidental.  Both siblings were swiftly returned to the care of the mother.

Birmingham City Council v DM FI and Ors [2015] EWFC 25: In this case we represented the mother.  Her very young baby, who had suffered with a number of conditions since birth, was presented to hospital and examinations revealed subdural haemorrhages, bilateral retinal haemorrhages, fractures and bruising.  The case was heard in the High Court. A number of experts were instructed to assist the Court as to the causation of these injuries including a Paediatric Radiologist, Paediatric Neuro-Surgeon, Neonatologist, Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Paediatrician and Paediatric Haematologist.  No medical cause was identified for the cause of the injuries to the child.  Father accepted that he was responsible for causing the fractures to the legs.  The Court found that the father was also responsible for causing the other injuries to the child.  Mother was found to have failed to protect. Read Full Judgement here.

Re S: In this case we represented a father.  His very young baby had sustained subdural haemorrhages and retinal haemorrhages.  The history provide was that the baby’s sibling had accidentally dropped the baby.  The baby was immediately presented to hospital as she appeared floppy, pale and unresponsive.  She was observed and discharged.  Parents were not satisfied that their baby was well and presented the baby back to the hospital.   Further examination revealed that she had sustained a subdural and retinal haemorrhages.  This explanation was not accepted by the hospital who examined the baby and they were accused of shaking their baby.   The baby was discharged from hospital into the care of the Maternal Grandparents supervising the parents at their property to enable the baby to remain with the family.  This case was considered by the High Court.  A number of medical experts were instructed including Paediatric Haematologist, Paediatrician, Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Paediatric Neuro-Surgeon, Paediatric Neuro-Radiologist and a Geneticist as mother and another sibling had a genetic condition which was also inherited by the baby.  After receiving some of the reports from the medical experts the Judge dealing with the matter discharged the application of the Local Authority as it was accepted that the cause of the injuries was the incident initially provided.  No Findings Made.  Case dismissed.

Re Q: In this case we represented a father.  His very young baby had sustained an acute subdural haemorrhage.  The case was considered by the High Court.  The parents could not provide an explanation for this injury and were accused of shaking their baby.  The baby was placed in the care of the Maternal Grandmother.  A number of medical experts were instructed including a Neuro-Surgeon and Neonatologist. It was advised that a Neuro-Radiologist should also be brought in to assist.  It was identified that the child suffered with a rare vascular disorder which was responsible for the injuries sustained.  The Local Authority withdrew their application for a Care Order and the baby returned home to the care of her parents.

Re N (A Minor) [2014] EWFC 54: In this case we represented a father.  Parents were accused of shaking their baby after he was presented to hospital with subdural haemorrhages and bilateral retinal haemorrhages.  Initially, the baby was placed in foster care but following a successful family assessment he was placed with the Maternal Grandparents.  The case was considered by the High Court.  A number of medical experts were instructed to assist the Court including a Paediatrician, Paediatric Neuro-Surgeon, Paediatric Neuro-Radiologist, Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Haematologist and a Forensic Pharmacologist.  After considering the evidence at the Finding of Fact Hearing the Court found the injuries had been sustained by accident by the mother in a state of panic when she believed that her child was not breathing and therefore feared that he was dying.  The Local Authority’s application for a Care Order was dismissed.  No Findings were made.  The child returned home to his parents.  Awaiting Publication.

Re M: In this case we represented a father.  Mother and father were accused of shaking their young baby.  The baby had also sustained fractures and bruising which the parents were accused of being responsible for.  The case was considered in the High Court.  A number of medical experts were instructed including a Paediatrician, Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Paediatric Neuro-Surgeon, Paediatric Neuro-Radiologist and a Paediatric Radiologist.  The medical experts were unanimous in their view that the injuries were Non Accidental in nature.  Mother was found to have caused all of the injuries.  It was accepted that father was not present during the time-frame in which the injuries could have been caused.  Father was exonerated.  The child was returned to the care of the father.

Re T:  In this case we represented a mother.  There were 4 children.  One child had sustained burns to the hands and another child had sustained fractures.  A Paediatric Radiologist and Paediatrician were instructed to report on the case.  A Fact Finding Hearing was held in which another family member was intervened as being a potential perpetrator for the causation of the fracture.  The Court concluded that the father was responsible for the burns and that he had been reckless in regards to causation and the seeking of medical treatment.  The Court could not determine between the father and the family member as to who caused the fracture to the other child.  Mother was exonerated.  The children had remained in the care of the mother since the commencement of the proceedings.  Father moved out of the property and following a risk assessment after the Finding of Fact Hearing he was allowed to return to the family home over a period of time.  A Supervision Order was made for 12 months.

Re F:  In this case we represented a father in respect of his very young baby.  Mother and father were accused of causing bruising to the baby.  It was later confirmed by the hospital that the alleged bruises were not in fact bruising they were Mongolian Blue Spots.  Baby returned to the care of the parents under a 6 month Supervision Order.

Re H: In this case we represented a father who had previously had findings of non-accidental injury made against him.  The mother sought to re-open the findings due to a change in expert opinion which needed to be explored. This was agreed by the father.  During the re-opening of the finding of fact hearing further medical experts were instructed, a Neonatologist and a Paediatric Radiologist.  Evidence was heard in the re-opened finding of fact hearing and the Court was invited by the parties not to make any findings of non-accidental injury against the parents.  The Local Authority officially withdrew their application for the findings.  The parents were found to have non accidentally caused the injuries which they had previously been found to have caused.

Re W: In this case we represented a mother.  The mother was found in initial care proceedings to have non accidentally caused bruising to her son alongside that of the father. Findings of neglect and domestic violence were also made by the Court.  At the end of the initial proceedings the child was placed within family under a Special Guardianship Order.  The parents were still facing criminal charges.  The medical experts within the family proceedings was approached in the criminal proceedings.  His view changed.  He went from being of the view that the child had sustained non accidental injuries to now being of the view that the bruises could all have been explained accidentally as a result of the child’s behaviour.  Other experts for the defence agreed with this view. The medical experts believed that a finding of non accidental injury should be reconsidered.  An application was made on behalf of the mother to re-open the finding of fact element of the case.  This was opposed by the Court.  Leave was given by the Court to re-open the case as the medical expert remained of the view that the injuries could have been explained as being caused accidentally.  A further Paediatrician was instructed in the proceedings who was of the view that the injuries could have been caused accidentally.  The findings of non accidental injury was set aside by the Court.  The child remains in the care of the family.

Re R: In this case we represented a mother. The mother was accused of causing a fracture to her young daughter. The child was permitted to reside with a family member with the mother visiting daily.  As part of the pre-proceedings stage of this case a Paediatric Radiologist was instructed to considered the cause of the injuries and whether or not it was possible that a sibling could have accidentally caused the fracture.  The Paediatric Radiologist accepted that the injury could have been sustained in the manner described by the mother as being caused by the sibling. The Local Auhtority did not issue proceedings.  The case did not get to Court. The mother was permitted to take her daughter back to the family home.

Lancashire County Council v P (injured child) [2015] EWFC B37 and Lancashire County Council v P (injured child, welfare stage) [2015] EWFC B72: In this case we represent the father.  They had 2 children.  The youngest child had sustained a fracture to her leg and bruises.  Parents denied causing injury to their child.  A number of medical experts were instructed including a Paediatric Radiologist, Paediatrician and Paediatric Haematologist.  The medical experts were unable to say that there was a medical cause for the injuries.  Following a Fact Finding Hearing the Judge felt unable to say who was responsible for causing the injuries and thus made a Lancashire Finding.  The children had been placed in the care of the Maternal Aunt throughout the proceedings and at the Welfare Stage of the proceedings it was concluded that is where they should remain long term under a Care Order whilst continuing to have contact with their parents. Please see Full Judgement.

Re L (A Child – Media Reporting) [2011] EWHC B8 (fam) and Re L (Psychologist: Duty to the Court)  [2011] EWHC B29 (Fam): In this case we represented the mother who had been accused of causing multiple fractures and marks to her 6 weeks old baby.  The matter was considered by the High Court.  A number of medical experts were instructed in this matter including a Paediatric Radiologist, Paediatrician, Paediatric Haematologist, Geneticist and a Consultant in Paediatric Bone Disorders.  After considering all of the evidence during the Finding of Fact Hearing, the Judge concluded that the mother was solely responsible for causing one of the fracture to the arm and that he was unable to determine between the mother and father who was responsible for the remaining fractures and marks.  Following on from the Finding of Fact Hearing the child went to live with his Maternal Grandmother.  At the welfare stage of the proceedings the Judge made a Joint Residence Order to the father and the Paternal Grandparents, a 12 month Supervision Order and set out a contact schedule for the child with his mother and Maternal Grandmother. Please see Full Judgement attached.

Re A: We represented a mother in this case.  One of the children had sustained two metaphyseal fractures, one to the distal humeral and the other to the proximal tibia fractures.  The Local Authority sought finings that the injuries have been caused non-accidentally.  It was asserted that neither fracture had a plausible explanation and that the other siblings on the balance of probabilities could not have caused the fractures.  The maternal grandmother was also in the pool of potential perpetrators.  A Paediatrician and Paediatric Radiologist was instructed to assist the Court in this matter.  After hearing evidence at a Finding of Fact Hearing the mother was removed from the pool of potential perpetrators and that Court found that the fractures were caused by one or other of the siblings.  The Court found that the mother has not failed to supervise adequately. The family were reunited.

Re D: In this case we represented a mother in respect of her two children who had been accused of causing a number of bruises to one of the children, some were to the face.  It was decided that although the injuries were considered to be non-accidental in nature due to the lack of a clear credible explanation for the injuries the children were permitted to return to the care of the parents under a 12 month Supervision Order.

Re E: In this case we represented a mother in respect of her 2 children.  One of the children had been presented to hospital with a fractured clavicle and numerous bruises to the head, trunk, back and both legs.  Mother accepted that the injuries were caused by a lack of supervision.  The children returned to the care of the mother under a Supervision Order.

Re R: In this case we represented a father who had been accused of causing bruises and grazes to his 3 children.  The children remained in the care of the father whilst investigations were ongoing.  A Paediatrician was instructed to assist the Court.  It was determined that the mother had at times failed to exercise appropriate supervision of the children.  It was decided that the children had also sustained further bruises and minor grazes whilst they were not in the care of the mother. The children remained in the care of the father at the conclusion of the proceedings under a Supervision Order.

Re B (A Child) [2014] EWHC B1 Fam 21: In this case we represented a father whose son had sustained head injuries and ophthalmological injuries.  The case was considered in the High Court.  The explanation provided by the parents was that the child had suffered a short fall from a bed onto a carpeted floor and started fitting and collapsed. The child was rushed to hospital where he suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. He underwent an emergency craniotomy which revealed that he had ‘acute on chronic subdural haematomas’ (an old bleed to the brain and new bleeds to the brain) suggestive that he had suffered a previous brain trauma. The craniotomy revealed that the brain was under enormous intracranial pressure which had to be relieved through surgery. The child was later found to also have multiple bilateral retinal haemorrhages and a macular fold.  The explanation provided by the parents was not accepted and they were accused of shaking their child.  Throughout proceedings experts were instructed including a haematologist, neurosurgeon, paediatrician, ophthalmologist and geneticist. There was no evidence of any bleeding disorder however, through acquiring and considering the paternal family’s medical history and the opinion of the geneticist it was established that the father suffered from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS).  The likelihood was that the child also suffered this condition.  Having heard all the evidence throughout a Finding of Fact Hearing, the court ruled that this was an accidental injury and not the result of shaking or any other non-accidental cause and dismissed the Local Authority’s case entirely and the child was immediately returned to the care of his parents. Please see full judgement here.

Re L:  In this case we represented the mother in respect of her young child.  The child presented with petechial bruising to the stomach and legs. The child was immediately presented to hospital given his young age where more appeared while the child was waiting to be seen. He was examined and it was observed that in the ensuing 24 hour period almost all of the bruises disappeared completely, and the very faint remainder resolved shortly thereafter. Despite this, it was concluded that the marks had been bruises by the treating paediatrician and possible NAI was reported to Children’s Services.  The Local Authority issued proceedings.  A Paediatrician was instructed to assist the Court who concluded that the marks were bruises, likely caused by very brief excessive gripping over clothing causing the petechial bruising that rapidly resolved.  The mother accepted the medical opinion but contended that she had not knowingly caused the bruises to the child and could not point to any specific event, but accepted that as this was her first child she could have caused the bruises by accident through inexperienced handling. The father was willing to accept the same.  The Local Authority stuck rigidly to the view of the expert that the person causing the bruises would have known they were causing them at the time, and therefore the parent’s concessions were not enough to satisfy them that a fact finding was not required. The mother had been the model parent throughout. She had shown genuine heartbreak and concern for her baby throughout and devoted herself like no other to work alongside the Local Authority.  The case proceeded to a Fact Finding Hearing where on Day 1 the Local Authority confirmed that they would not be perusing any findings against the mother and therefore the Court was invited to formally exculpate the mother of any wrongdoing, which it did when the Judgment was given and all of the findings were made against the father. The child returned to the sole care of the mother the same day.

Re H: 

We represented the father in this case concerning his young twin babies. One twin presented with bruising to his legs (the other was noted to be without any marks or bruises) and as the parents were not able to offer an explanation to satisfy the treating clinicians, Children’s Services were informed and proceedings were issued. The children were briefly moved to a foster placement but after the initial hearing, it was agreed that the children could be returned home to the parents, provided either sets of grandparents lived in with the parents in order to supervise them with the children. The parents offered various explanations for how they may have caused the bruises but neither could say for definite who are what caused them. The twin who presented with the bruises had significant physical health problems due to both babies being born very premature and he required ongoing physiotherapy. He had a propensity to go very stiff during handling as a result of his medical condition and it was thought, among other possible explanations, that one or other of the parents may have caused the bruises without realising that they may have been using too much pressure to handle him during these episodes. The parents advanced four possible explanations and it was accepted by the Local Authority that one or other of the explanations was the likely cause and that the parents could not honestly say which one of them caused them, but they accepted that one of them must have done unintentionally. As a result, the Local Authority did not pursue any findings against the parents in light of their concessions and the fact finding hearing was vacated. The supervision at home was reduced and the matter concluded with a 6 month SO to the Local Authority with complete withdrawal of the supervision of the family members.

 

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