The Court of Appeal has lifted the shadow of suspicion hanging over a mother and father accused of harming their baby after he sustained mysterious bruising. The court ruled that a family judge had been wrong to find that the boy’s injuries were non-accidental and that one or other of his parents must have been responsible.
The parents had been placed under close scrutiny by Kent County Council after taking their son to hospital with bruising on his arms and legs and, after a family court hearing, a judge ruled that the injuries were non-accidental. She also found that, whichever of the parents had caused the injuries, the other had been negligent in failing to protect the baby from harm.
Overturning those findings and staying proceedings to have the boy taken into care, Lord Justice Ward, sitting with Lord Justice Lloyd and Lady Justice Rafferty, said: ’The truth is we simply do not know what happened to the child and we do not know how it happened. The conclusion that it must have been non-accidental was put forward by a doctor and was then adopted by the judge.’
There was no indication of what sort of object could have caused the injuries, or how pressure was applied to cause the bruising, and the judge added: ‘I fear that, in this case, despite her careful analysis of the evidence, the judge did fall into error. Her judgment on the lack of protection by the parents is so short of reasoning and difficult to understand that the local authority does not seek to uphold it.’