Judge says one of couple probably responsible for injuries, but children should wherever possible be raised by parents
A soldier and his wife may regain custody of their daughter, even though one of them probably fractured her skull and ribs and the other withheld information about what happened, a high court judge has said.
Mr Justice Baker said the child, now two, was taken into care after doctors found she had sustained a number of skull and rib fractures at six months.
He concluded that one parent was probably responsible for the injuries and the other was withholding information. But he said in many other ways the couple had been good parents and were devoted to their daughter.
Professionals involved in the case must work together to see if the girl could be safely returned to the couple, the judge said.
Baker said neither the couple nor the child could be identified. The couple are in their 30s, and the soldier has been stationed in eastern England and Wiltshire.
Details emerged in a written judgment after a hearing in the family division of the high court. The judge said the soldier had described how his daughter had been hurt in a fall, but Baker said he did not accept that explanation. “I find that each parent is concealing information and has given a false and misleading account,” he said.
“It is probable, in my view, that one of the parents is responsible for the injuries and the other is knowingly withholding information so as to protect the perpetrator. I make these findings only after prolonged thought and with regret and reluctance. I know these parents have endured a great deal of hardship over the past few years.
“I accept that in many other ways the mother and father have been good parents … I accept that they are devoted … I accept that they are desperate to care for [her] again.”
He said children should wherever possible be raised by their parents. “I do not regard these findings as the end of the story,” he added. “All the professionals in the case – the social workers, the guardian and the court – must do what we can to see if [the girl] can soon be safely returned to [her] parents.
“But the primary responsibility now lies with the parents themselves. I urge them, even at this late stage, to be more frank with the court so that we can all understand what happened to [the girl] and work together to ensure that she [is] safe in the future.”
SOURCE: The Guardian