The family courts are sadly accustomed to dealing with cases where children suffer non-accidental injuries at their parents’ hands. However, in one case, a judge ruled that a local authority’s initial suspicions were misplaced and directed the return of a two-year-old boy to the care of his loving parents.
The boy was still short of his first birthday when he was taken to hospital by his parents. He was found to have suffered a head injury resulting in bleeding on his brain. Social workers suspected that he had suffered a deliberately inflicted injury and he was removed from his parents’ care.
However, following a fact-finding hearing, the judge accepted that the mother was in a state of extreme panic and believed that her child was dying when she shook him in an attempt at resuscitation. The child had been suffering from a heavy cold and chest infection and had apparently collapsed on his changing mat before the mother’s ill-advised intervention.
She would have to live with the knowledge that she had seriously injured her baby. However, the judge found that she had no malicious intent and had believed that she was helping her son. In those circumstances, the threshold for making a care order had not been crossed and the judge directed the boy’s return to his parents.