A Local Authority v W (No 2) (Finding of Fact Hearing) – Family Law Week case summary

23 November 2020

The judge made findings of the parents’ collusion and that there was a real possibility they had overlaid the child causing an asphyxial event.

In public law proceedings, MacDonald J held a fact-finding hearing. Both parents were found to have failed to disclose all they knew about how S came to be admitted to hospital with a hypoxic head injury when aged nearly 3 months old in June 2019.

The parents had both experienced difficult childhoods. They agreed that their relationship was 'toxic'. Their first child, L, was born in 2018. Both parties went on to have sexual relationships with others, such that the father questioned the paternity of S. The father abused drugs and alcohol and dealt drugs, and the mother used (and continued to use) cocaine at a high level. Their relationship featured domestic abuse and the father made a number of admissions in respect to his treatment of the mother and his anger issues.

The parties gave different accounts of how the injury to S came about. Following a 999 call, S was attended to by paramedics and admitted to hospital. On his discharge, the parents consented to S being accommodated under s 20 Children Act 1989.

The court considered two expert reports. The first expert, Professor David, provided an opinion that the symptoms S presented with were most likely naturally occurring or that one of the parents had intentionally suffocated him. The expert concluded a poorly understood natural event was more probable than an inflicted cause.

Read the full summary on Family Law Week.