Father responsible for child’s death, court finds

In a recent High Court ruling, a father was found responsible for deliberately inflicting a fatal head injury on his child.

The child, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was the victim of two serious assaults.

In the first assault, medical experts consulting on the case found that the child, referred to as KB, had suffered a head injury and two compressive spinal fractures.

In the second assault, KB suffered a further head injury from which he died. The experts ruled the fatal injury to be “non-accidental”.

KB’s death prompted the fact-finding hearing as part of care proceedings regarding his half-sister.

Mrs Justice King found that, based on “unequivocal and overwhelming” medical evidence, the father had caused the injuries and the mother was guilty of failing to protect the child.

Despite evidence implicating the father, the judge admitted that the court had no idea exactly what happened on the night of KB’s death.

She noted:

“Neither the mother nor the father, at present, are prepared to tell the court what triggered the second loss of temper on the part of the father.  I am satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that something happened whilst the father was in the bedroom alone with KB.  He was there, he told me, trying to find clothes, an almost impossible task given the state of the room.  Whether in frustration he threw KB into the cot to free up his hands to find something clean to put on him, rather than putting him in the cot whilst he hunted for clothes (as he told the court), only the father knows.”

The judge found the father to be “a man of contradictions” who “had real problems with drugs, and possibly drink” but admitted that his testimony was preferable to that of the mother, who “often simply makes things up”.

Mrs Justice King expressed “considerable compassion” for the mother, considering the “extraordinarily difficult start to life” she had, but did not let that affect the ruling.

She concluded:

“The mother’s failure to protect inevitably must be put into the context of her own appalling background and circumstances, but that is no comfort now and she must always reproach herself, one suspects, for covering up that first appalling incident … instead of intervening in order to protect her child, had she done so KB might have been alive today.”

Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by wwarby via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence 

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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