ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, FAMILY DIVISION
BRISTOL DISTRICT REGISTRY
(MR JUSTICE COLERIDGE)
(LOWER COURT No: BS08C10086)
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE LLOYD
LORD JUSTICE WILSON
|IN THE MATTER OF L-R (CHILDREN)|
WordWave International Limited
A Merrill Communications Company
165 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2DY
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Mr Stuart Fuller (instructed by the Legal Services Department of Bristol City Council) appeared on behalf of the Appellant Local Authority.
Mr Benjamin Jenkins (instructed by Foster & Partners) appeared on behalf of the Respondent Mother and Father.
Miss Kate Branigan QC and Miss Melissa Barlow (instructed by Henriques Griffiths) appeared on behalf of the Respondent Child D, a Girl.
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Wilson:
"46. Once again the medical evidence is very clear and unanimous. It is set out on the attached schedule. All are agreed that, if this is self harming, it is not classic self harming. These are neat almost surgical incisions so [G] must have held, or been held, very still when they were inflicted. The doctors are clear in saying it is very unusual if not unknown for children of this age to injure themselves. And it is unknown on the head. They say it would be very difficult for a child to injure himself in this way. And they point to the fact that it stopped after [G]'s removal from the flat (although in fact it had already ceased long before removal).
47. However all doctors remained mystified and neither Dr Watkeys nor Dr Allport not Dr Adesida had seen the all important videos when they first opined as to causation. After Dr Allport saw the video where [G] demonstrated how he had harmed himself he firmly changed his mind and said so in writing. However he then stepped back from self harm when he realised there were further disclosures implicating the parents and [D]. In the end I am clear the causation of these injuries cannot be determined by reference to the medical evidence only or even mainly. It is consistent with both explanations."
"I think 'self-inflicted' and I think 'inflicted by another person'. And the latest explanation from [G's] video interviews that it was [D] who inflicted them [means that they] have to both remain in my mind relevant possibilities."
Then, asked whether he pinned his colours to one or other of those masts, Dr Allport said:
"I think I would not. I think I would leave it to the court. I think both of those remain."
"I could not exclude either… I thought initially when I looked at them, … he probably could not reach but he actually can reach."
"52. Of course the parents and [D] are quite clear at all times that these injuries were self inflicted, all caused by [G] himself with a large kitchen knife.
53. How should I treat the parents' evidence on these all important injuries in the light of the finding I have made about the beating injuries? Unusually perhaps given the previous finding, but I can say with confidence, I found the parents' evidence on this part of the case spontaneous and convincing. There were no inconsistencies in their accounts and the fact that the injuries happened so close together and on both occasions [G] was taken to hospital more or less promptly seems to me to lend heavy support to their version of events.
54. Having considered all the evidence (and I emphasise ALL) I am satisfied, despite the medical evidence as to likelihood and my misgivings about the parents' credibility in relation to the beating, that the injuries were more likely to be self inflicted in the manner described by [G] himself in the early videos and repeated to Dr Allport and Dr Somarib. It seems to me to be entirely consistent with the rest of the surrounding evidence in the case and the context save only, of course, the later revelations by [G] to his social worker, foster carer and finally the last interview."
Lord Justice Lloyd:
Lord Justice Jacob:
Order: Appeal dismissed