Regent's Park Road
Finchley Central N3 1BQ
B e f o r e :
|IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN ACT 1989|
|AND IN THE MATTER OF ME ML AND MCL (CHILDREN)|
|LONDON BOROUGH OF ENFIELD||Applicant|
|- and -|
|(2) AL Respondents|
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MR. J. AGEROS (instructed by Lawrence & Co) appeared on behalf of the 1st Respondent Mother.
MS. S. BRADLEY (instructed by Hopkin Murray Beskine) appeared on behalf of the 2nd Respondent Father.
MS. A. DIXON (instructed by Shepherd Harris Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Guardian.
Crown Copyright ©
1. Mrs. CL experienced a period of postnatal depression with ME and there have been subsequent periods of low mood.
2. She does not fulfil the criteria for personality disorder.
3. As at October 2011 her mental state was stable with no evidence of psychotic or affective symptoms.
4. Mother's presentation was linked to her mental health and use of alcohol.
5. She does not fulfil the criteria alcohol dependence but rather as a maladaptive coping strategy (K229). Further, that it is likely alcohol is used as a way of coping with her symptoms when she is non-compliant.
6. Her mental health will impact on her day to day functioning when she experiences a relapse as:(a) at times when she is experiencing psychotic thoughts, her ability to meet the needs of her children would be impacted due to preoccupation with her symptoms;
(b) if depressed she would be remote;
(c) if intoxicated the children could be exposed to explosive situations;
(d) she needs to remain compliant with her medication for the foreseeable future.
"On 25th January all three children were in bed. Very unusually for her, G drank some brandy which I had had in the house since Christmas. I realise now that it was inappropriate to keep alcohol in the house knowing that G reacts badly to it. Having drunk some of the brandy, G became abusive and started accusing me of having an affairs with the Sure Start worker. She then lacerated the sides of my face with her nails. I went outside in order to diffuse the situation. Whilst outside I spoke to a passerby who turned out to be an off duty policeman. He advised me to go to the hospital but I pointed out that I could not leave the children alone with their mother. After a while I went back indoors. However, G was still angry and with a plastic spoon injured my eye. At that point I pushed her out of the back door. I was concerned about her state and the fact that she was not dressed to be outside. When our downstairs neighbours returned home I asked her to look after the children while I went to find G. When I could not find her I went to the police station to report her as missing. It became apparent she was there. I gave a statement and was advised to go home. I was told the police would come round later to photograph my injuries, and they did so at 5.00 am".
"I contacted Mr. L on the phone. He was very clear with me that he thought he and the children were not safe when the children's mother was released from custody. I asked him the reasons. He thought that she will be released from custody and he explained that he did not want criminal charges to be brought against her and had informed the police of this. Mr. L made it clear at the time of the phone call that he had been attacked by his wife, cut and stabbed and been injured in the eye. He was fearful about his safety and that of the children and requested assistance with travel arrangements to take him and the children to stay with his mother in Yorkshire. We discussed the logistics of this arrangement and concluded it would not be practicable in the circumstances. I agreed to re-contact Mr. L"
"I telephoned Mr. L again. He informed me that the children's mother had been released from custody and was at home with him. He also said that they had been talking and wished to reconcile and thought that the two older children should return home".
He went on,
"In my view it is commendable that Mr. L sought assistance with his situation. However, there was no evidence that the very worrying and dangerous situation of the previous night had abated and will not be repeated. I was very clear with Mr. L that he had informed me of his fears for his safety and the fact that he wished to reconcile in itself was not a reason to conclude that matters were safe. When Mr. L originally reported his fears and concerns about his and the children's safety I did not get the sense of any hyperbole on his part, rather than he was worried, concerned and upset".
The parents suggest that ME may have heard her father reporting events at the police station. Mr. L is clear that he did not report the use of a knife. Whilst ME was only very young at this point, and the records are hearsay and untested, they demonstrate the child's perception of a significant level of conflict between the parents which is consistent with the parents' acknowledgement of mother's use of violence on Mr. L.
"In summary, Mrs. CL and Mr. L had shown little insight or understanding of the local authority's concerns. This is because they do not appear to accept that the concerns are genuine and believe them to be exaggerated or entirely fabricated. At the admission meeting on 15th April 2013, and in subsequent interviews, Mrs. CL and Mr. L acknowledged that an incident took place on 26th January leading to Mrs. CL's arrest. However, they have both consistently been dismissive of the suggestion that their children were at risk of harm on this or any other occasion. Instead, Mr. L has expressed the strongly held view that his children have been taken under false pretences and that evidence has been deliberately exaggerated and fabricated against them, for example, regarding his wife assaulting him with a plastic spoon rather than a knife. Mr. L has also refuted the claim that his stepdaughter ME could have said something like, 'Mummy hurt Daddy's eye. Mummy hits Daddy lots', that the incidents between the couple have been so infrequent and she would not use this language. Mrs. CL has also minimised the concerns, claiming that all couples argue".
"Throughout this assessment both parents have appeared to struggle to understand why my questions are focused on issues such as the instability in the couple relationship, the history of episodic alcohol misuse or their apparent rejection of support from helping agencies. For example, Mrs. CL questioned why her alcohol use was viewed negatively, insisting that she had taken a decision to stop drinking in January 2013 and was confident that she could continue her abstinence into the future".
At paragraphs 33 and 34 Miss Grant goes on to speak of the difficulty both parents have in understanding how it must have felt for the children to experience ... domestic arguments, particularly where alcohol has been used, or to demonstrate any understanding of how the children must feel about their removal into care.
(1) he does not accept that he has limited insight into the way in which the adult relationship functions;
(2) he does not accept that he failed to act protectively taking the whole of the transaction over the 25th and 26th January;
(3) he does not accept that he uses complaint as a defence mechanism;
(4) he does not accept that he failed to prioritise the children's needs over his wife;
(5) he does not accept that he lacks the capacity to change in order to protect.