Home News Family and Children Law Family Court Comprehensively Backs Parents in ‘Non-Accidental Injury’ Case

Family Court Comprehensively Backs Parents in ‘Non-Accidental Injury’ Case

A finding that a child has suffered non-accidental injuries is bound to have profound consequences for the rest of his or her life. However, as a Family Court ruling made plain, medical experts who raise such suspicions are not infallible and their conclusions are always subject to overriding judicial scrutiny.

The case concerned a baby boy who, when taken to hospital by his parents, was found to have suffered bilateral skull fractures. He sustained permanent brain damage. His father explained that, whilst cuddling him in his arms, he accidentally dropped him on the hard wooden floor of the family’s kitchen.

Members of the neurological team who examined him at a leading children’s hospital raised concerns that his injuries might be non-accidental. They considered that they could have resulted from two separate trauma incidents and that an accidental cause, whilst possible, was unlikely.

The family’s local authority responded by launching care proceedings in respect of the child and his older sibling. At a preliminary hearing, the Court was asked to make findings of fact as to how the child came by his injuries.

Ruling on the matter, the Court observed that the family was not previously known to social services and no concerns had ever been raised by professionals regarding the childcare provided by either parent. A health visitor had reported a warm relationship between the mother and both children and, following inquiries, the police viewed the parents’ explanation for the child’s injuries as completely plausible.

It was agreed on all sides that the incident described by the father was a complex fall onto a flat, hard surface from a height of about five feet. Downward and rotational forces would have been in play. It was also accepted that the accounts given by the parents were consistent from the outset.

The Court found that the mechanism of injury described by the parents could have caused the child’s injuries. Going further, it concluded that there was no evidence before the Court on which it could make any finding other than that the injuries were caused accidentally, as stated by the parents.

15 September 2022
Last Updated
2 November 2022