The family courts are there to protect the vulnerable, particularly children. In a case which illustrated the point, a judge mapped out the future care of a two-year-old boy who suffered brain damage and other serious injuries at the hands of his father.
The boy was four months old when he was taken to hospital with both legs broken and severe head injuries. Although he had developed into a sociable and happy child, his mobility was restricted, his hearing and sight were both impaired and he would require specialist care for the foreseeable future.
The boy was placed with a foster carer and, following a fact finding hearing, a judge concluded that his injuries were caused by his father and that his mother had failed to protect him. The couple had thus forfeited their right to bring him up and an issue arose as to who should look after him in the future.
The judge directed that he should live permanently with his foster carer under a special guardianship order. His paternal great-aunt, who had shown her love and commitment to the boy by offering him a home, was granted contact rights. Despite their wrongdoing, his parents would continue to have indirect contact him and were permitted to say ‘goodbye’ to him via a video link.