SITTING AT LIVERPOOL
B e f o r e :
| Cheshire East Borough Council
|- and -
Ms Kay Brammall (instructed by Otten Penna) for the First Respondent
Ms Sara Lewis (instructed by Platt Halpern) for the Second Respondent
Ms Ruth Scarisbrick (of Bell, Lamb & Joynson solicitors) for the Third Respondent
The Fourth Respondent appeared in person
Hearing dates: 1, 2 and 3 March 2016
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice MacDonald:
i) The maternal aunt accepted that the mother is capable of telling lies and that she does not always tell the truth.
ii) The maternal aunt saw the mother intoxicated whilst having sole care of PN on 4 March 2016 but did not refer to the incident in her statement and conceded that she did not tell the social worker about it.
iii) Despite her being told by the mother that the father had on one occasion thrown PN on the bed, the maternal aunt did not relate this to the Police.
iv) The maternal aunt sought to explain why she had withheld matters from the social worker and from the Police by saying "I did not give the full story because [the mother] wouldn't let me".
v) The maternal aunt accepted that at times the mother was aggressive and challenging towards the father and that there was fault on both sides, although, she felt, more so on the father's part.
vi) There was evidence before the court that is inconsistent with the assertion by both the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt that they did not have a great deal of contact with the mother between 27 May 2016 and 11 July 2016.
vii) The maternal aunt sought to minimise the significance of the time spent by the mother at her home over the weekend of 1 to 4 July 2016, one of the periods during which I am satisfied that PN was injured by her mother.
viii) The maternal aunt admitted in cross examination that she had, in effect, colluded with the mother to minimise concerns to social services, succumbing to a request from the mother not to raise issues concerning the father with the social worker and going along with the idea of not giving a full picture to the social worker.
ix) The maternal aunt at one point sought to blame the social worker for not responding properly to the situation, the full extent of which situation she conceded she had agreed to conceal.
x) In the series of conversations with the father recorded by the mother the mother is heard conspiring with another female to make an allegation of theft against the father, which allegation is then duly made and thereafter an offer to withdraw the allegation if the father admits he caused the injuries to PN. These recordings also record the maternal aunt offering to testify on the father's behalf regarding his conduct towards PN if he is prepared to make an admission that he harmed PN.
"First, as I have recounted, it is plain that the agreement that DA and HA signed was far from clear in its terms. For example, the prohibition on leaving PN "alone" with the mother does not make clear whether supervision has to be one-to-one at all times or simply involves DA and HA being in the same property as the mother. The agreement is also confused in its description of precisely who is bound by it as between DA and HA. The omission of DA and HA must be understood in this context. Second, it is important to remember the very difficult position family members are placed in when they are asked by a local authority to supervise a parents' contact with their child. For family members that task is freighted with complex feelings of love and loyalty as well as a desire to ensure the child is protected. Within this context, the task facing family members is, paradoxically, a far more difficult one than that which faces professionals trained to undertake it…Whilst the assessments of DA and HA remain to be finalised, and without in anyway seeking to suggest what the final outcome of these proceedings may be, the local authority will need to consider the conduct of HA and DA within the context of the matters I have outlined."
"Ensuring safety (Describe the applicant's capacity to protect the child from harm and danger, including any person who presents a risk to them.)
[NM] and [HM] would wish to ensure that PN is taught age appropriate life and safety skills as she grows older and matures in their care. From an early age this would include issues such as safety around the home and they would of course ensure that they had the necessary safety equipment in place once PN became mobile. This would incorporate such items as stair gates and plug guards etc. As PN grows older she would be taught basic road safety and personal safety e.g. not talking to strangers and always telling someone where she is going which is what the couple have taught their own children and then grandchildren.
The couple have a dog that is a Jack Russell dog. As stated elsewhere in this report [NM] and [HM] have stated that they are aware that PN becomes alarmed by sudden noises and for this reason if their application were to be successful they have suggested that they would be willing to re-home the dog to their nephew who also has a Jack Russell"