It is always distressing when children suffer non-accidental injuries and identifying perpetrators, so that they come to no further harm, is one of the most difficult tasks faced by the family courts. In one case, a judge found that responsibility for a baby girl’s numerous leg fractures fell upon one or other of her parents.
The girl was about six weeks old when her mother took her to see a GP because one of her legs was swollen. Examination revealed multiple fractures of both her legs, injuries which would have required considerable force to inflict and which her parents accepted must have been non-accidental.
The parents, however, claimed that the injuries were probably caused by medical professionals during the baby’s traumatic Caesarean delivery or in the course of an ultrasound scan of her hips when she was about five weeks old. However, after hearing extensive expert evidence relating particularly to the timing of the injuries, the judge rejected both of those scenarios as impossible.
The judge found on the balance of probabilities that the injuries had been caused by excessive force used by either the mother or the father. Whichever one of them had not inflicted the injuries also bore responsibility in failing to protect the child or seek timely medical assistance for her. The judge’s ruling was likely to have a decisive impact on pending care proceedings at which decisions would be made about the child’s future residence and care arrangements.