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Injury evidence unproven

A Local Authority v M & Others [2013] (11 01 13)

Miles & Partners represented a mother of three in a second fact-finding case which concluded there was insufficient evidence to find that injuries to her middle child were non-accidental.

At the time of the injuries, M suffered from severe rickets caused by vitamin D deficiency. Despite this, in the initial fact-finding case, medical witnesses unanimously agreed that M’s injuries were non-accidental. The judge concluded that they were caused by one of her parents and that the other parent was protecting the perpetrator.

The expert evidence of Professor Nussey and Professor Barnes, in a subsequent case concerning another child with rickets and suspected non-accidental injuries, persuaded HHJ Hayward Smith QC that child M’s parents should be able to seek the opinion of these experts who agreed that children of M’s age suffering from rickets often sustain multiple fractures as a result of the disease rather than from non-accidental causes.

At the second hearing, the judge heard new evidence that the severe nature of M’s rickets, before successful treatment, meant that her parents may not have noticed when fractures were sustained. The judge did not view the parents inability to explain the injuries as relevant and noted that the parents had responded appropriately when they were aware of fractures.

In conclusion, the judge found that there was insufficient evidence of non-accidental injuries and that the ‘threshold criteria’ on which a Family Court can make a care of supervision order under The Children Act 1989 had not, in this case, been reached.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.