Domestic violence lies at the heart of many family cases but few can be as anxious as that of a six-year-old boy whose father beat his mother to death. In deciding where his best interests lay, a judge directed that he should be taken into local authority care and sent to live with his paternal aunt and uncle.
The little boy was effectively orphaned when his father was convicted of his mother’s murder and ordered to serve at least 28 years in prison. He was placed with foster carers temporarily but the judge had to decide with whom he should live in the future. The candidates were his maternal grandparents and the aunt and uncle.
The grandparents argued that they were his ‘primal, primary and most important link’ to his mother and that they should bring him up. However, they lived in China and the boy did not speak their language. The aunt and uncle lived in England and the British-born boy already had a close emotional bond with them.
Ruling in favour of the boy’s placement with his aunt and uncle, the judge noted that he had suffered an immense emotional and psychological shock and that a move to China would be a huge upheaval for him. Although the father continued to protest his innocence and had expressed no remorse, the aunt – his sister – was convinced of his guilt and wanted nothing further to do with him.
The judge emphasised that it was of the utmost importance that the boy’s contact with his grandparents be maintained and that they should be encouraged to visit him whenever they are in England. In his current fragile emotional state it was almost inconceivable that he would have contact with his father, at least until the latter displayed genuine acceptance of the jury’s guilty verdict.