This judgment was delivered in private.† The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the child[ren] and members of their [or his/her] family must be strictly preserved.†† All persons, including representatives of the media,† must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with.† Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.
IN THE CHELMSFORD COUNTY COURT
New London Road
Essex CM12 OPP
Friday, 11th April 2014
HIS HONOUR JUDGE LOCHRANE
B E T W E E N :
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RT†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Applicant
-† and -
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PC††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Respondent
Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & CO.
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MR. J. SIMISON (instructed by Garrods) appeared on behalf of the Applicant.
THE RESPONDENT did not attend and was not represented.†
J U D G M E N T
(As approved by the Judge)
HIS HONOUR JUDGE LOCHRANE:
1. This is the conclusion of a fact finding process in respect of allegations made by the mother, Miss RT, against the father, PC.
2. The background to this fact finding process is cross-applications between the parents concerning the children of the parties, A, who was born on 18th January 2008; B, born on 15th June 2009; C, born on 25th January 2011, and D, born on 22nd August 2012.† The children currently all reside with their mother, following a change in arrangements which occurred in the latter part of last year, to which I shall return in a moment.†
3. It is apparent from the evidence that the children have not had any contact with their father at all since November of last year.† There is an order for supervised contact to continue to take place, which the father has clearly not taken up.† It is apparent that the contact between the father and the children ceased at more or less the same time, pretty much exactly the same time, as the motherís then property was the subject of an arson attack, when someone put a lighted firework through the letter box during the night, so when the children were in bed. It is significantly more by luck, probably, than planning that no greater damage was caused than was in fact caused, which was some, mercifully comparatively minor, fire damage to the hallway of the property.† Certainly, the perpetrator of that offence, when putting the lighted firework through the letter box, could not possibly have anticipated anything other than that he or she was placing the lives of the occupants of the property at risk.†
4. The parties were married in 2012.† They have been together for some considerable time.† There is some dispute as to exactly when they became romantically involved.† Miss T, the mother, suggests that she was under 16 at the time when their relationship commenced.† Mr. C, I think, suggests that she was already 16 at the time when their romantic arrangements commenced.† There is a significant disparity in age between the parties, Mr. C now being in his mid forties, Miss T now in her mid twenties.† As I said, there are four children who are the subject of the applications which are before the court and which have necessitated this fact finding process.†
5. Originally, for reasons which I do not think I need to go into, the parties separated back in the course of 2013 and the mother moved out.† The arrangements to begin with were that the parties shared the former family home on a three day on three day off basis with the children staying in the property being looked after by whichever parent was entitled, as it were, to the then current three day period.† That came to an end in the course of September of 2013 when at the conclusion of one of the fatherís periods of shared residence the youngest child, D, was found to have not insignificant injuries, for which, it is suggested, as yet no adequate explanation has been provided.†
6. The injuries to D form the subject of one of the allegations contained in the schedule, and I will return to the detail in due course.† But as a consequence of the involvement of the professionals, and indeed the police, I think, at the time, in relation to the injuries to D, the arrangements were changed.† The Local Authority became involved and the fatherís contact thereafter was supervised, until it ceased altogether, as I have said, in November.
7. I remind myself, of course, at the outset that the mother brings these allegations for the purposes of this fact finding process, and it is for the mother to prove to me, on the balance of probabilities, that the evidence supports the making of the findings which she seeks.† She has been represented at these proceedings by Mr. Simison of counsel, with his usual professional approach.†
8. The father is not represented in these proceedings.† He was originally represented by solicitors.† The solicitors came off the record in the early part of this year.† The father was present personally when the order fixing the hearing for these two days was made by me, and indeed, as Mr. Simison reminds me, the dates fixed were fixed in consultation with Mr. C in order to accommodate his availability, and that of his then proposed witnesses, primarily, I think, his daughter by a different relationship, E.† The father has not attended these two days of this hearing.† It is very apparent that he has had some considerable warning of these proceedings, and indeed this date.† Indeed, as I have already indicated, the momentum for a fact finding hearing, and the specific fixing of these dates for a fact finding hearing, were the responsibility of the father and reflected his convenience.†
9. I have seen a small bundle of correspondence from the solicitors instructed by the mother to the address given by the father in the notice served by him that he was acting on his own behalf, that address being his motherís address.† So I have seen a bundle of correspondence dealing with preparations for this hearing and seeking the fatherís input.† He has not responded to any of that correspondence, he has not provided the evidence in accordance with the order which I made, and, as I have said, he does not appear.† Statements have been filed on his behalf in the past, as they have on behalf of the mother, and I now have a relatively significant volume of police disclosure which deals with a number of different matters.†
10. On the basis that there has been no communication whatsoever from the father to the court, or to the solicitors instructed on behalf of the mother, the decision was taken to proceed with this matter as clearly the time has been set aside and there was no information upon which the court could sensibly adjourn the matter with a view to the father attending and making his case.† In those circumstances, Mr. Simison has called his evidence, and I have heard from three witnesses on behalf of the mother, the mother herself, Mr. SJ, a neighbour, and the motherís current partner, Mr. CH, who was, at the time of the relevant incidents, a neighbour. He did not become romantically involved with the mother until after her separation from Mr. C.
11. There are 15 allegations contained in the schedule before me.† Mr. Simison, on behalf of the mother, indicated at the outset that three of those allegations he accepted could not form part of the motherís submissions in relation to findings which she could sensibly invite the court to make.†
12. The first is number 1 on the list, which relates to allegations as long ago as 2003, and clearly deal with Mr. Cís previous wife, who is the mother of four of his children, three boys and a girl.† There is, in addition, A, who is the child of another relationship and born prior to the four children who were the product of a relationship with his previous wife.† Mr. Simison accepts that he is not in a position, clearly, to advance evidence to support the allegation contained at number 1, which is an assault on the previous wife.†
13. The background, however, accepted in Mr. Cís own statement, is that he no longer has contact with the four children of that relationship. That is dealt with, to some extent, in the report of the social worker, who indicates that there is some considerable reluctance on those childrenís part to have contact with their father.† I do not think that is explained in any greater detail, but, nonetheless, it appears to be the case from the social workerís evidence, that there is no contact between the father and his children from his previous marriage, and that is in no small measure because the children themselves are reluctant to have contact with their father.† So allegation number 1 is no longer pursued.†
14. The second allegation which is not pursued by Mr. Simison, on behalf of the mother, is that contained at number 13 on the schedule, which relates to attacks by somebody on Mr. Hí vehicle.† It is apparent, I think, that Mr. H has had one car set alight, and also that his car has been scratched.† The offences occurred at the time, more or less, when the relationship was breaking down and others of these allegations were taking place, but, again, Mr. Simison cannot suggest the evidence before the court supports a possible conclusion that Mr. C was actually responsible, whether directly or indirectly, for those attacks on Mr. Hí vehicle.† A suspicion is clearly raised but a suspicion is certainly not good enough for the purposes of making a finding.†
15. The final matter upon which Mr. Simison accepts he is not in a position to ask the court to make findings is that of the incident of the firework being pushed through the letter box.† Unsurprisingly, that has been the subject of police investigation, and the police have taken the decision not to prosecute Mr. C.† There is in the police disclosure, among other things, a statement from Mr. Cís mother in which she indicates that he has an alibi for the purposes of that investigation.† She indicates that throughout the relevant day he was in her company.† She did not, of course, appear, and that evidence has not been tested in any way, but, nonetheless, that is a statement on the file. As I understand it from Mr. Simison, there is also fingerprint evidence from the firework itself. A fingerprint was obtained but it does not appear to have been Mr. Cís fingerprint.† Again, whilst there is clearly, given the timing, a suspicion that Mr. C might have been involved, whether directly or indirectly, a suspicion, clearly, is not sufficient for a finding. No finding is sought and no finding is made in respect of that.† Nonetheless, following that incident Miss T and the children have moved to an address which is not disclosed to Mr. C, and no other person, as I understand it, has been prosecuted for this extremely dangerous and concerning offence on 1st December of last year.
16. That takes me to the remaining 12 allegations upon which the mother does seek findings.† In September last year the mother obtained a non molestation order under the Family Law Act 1996.† Two of the allegations relate to breaches of that order, for which Mr. C has subsequently been found guilty and punished in the Magistrates Court.† Those are clearly criminal findings, whether they be on the basis of a plea of guilty or not, and they are not findings which, accordingly, could †be revisited by this court.† It is clear that he has been found guilty in the Criminal Court beyond reasonable doubt, and it is must be accepted, certainly absent any submissions on his behalf, that he is, for these purposes, found to have committed those offences. The evidence clearly supports a finding on those allegations. Those allegations are, firstly, that on 18th September, almost immediately following the making of the non molestation order, the father attended at the motherís property, in breach of that order, and made insulting gestures and remarks. He received a community order. Secondly, on 7th November he further breached the order by sending text messages to the mother which made it plain that he was observing, stalking, I suppose, the mother in her home.† In her evidence before me the mother told me, and I accept, that in order to make the comments he did make in the text messages, for which he was convicted, he must either have been looking over the fence at the bottom of the garden or actually have been in the garden itself in order to be able to observe through the living room window. Accordingly, in respect of two of the allegations out of the 12 remaining, there can be no sensible conclusion other than that the facts and the evidence support the allegations as set out.†
17. As I have said, I heard evidence from the mother, Mr J the neighbour, and Mr. H, the then neighbour, now partner.† I certainly have not, in the course of that evidence, had any cause to doubt that the mother is doing anything other than telling the truth.† Indeed, I am comforted that there does not appear in any of the evidence of the three witnesses before me to be any attempt by them to exaggerate any of the incidents in which they were involved in a way which might well have been understandable given that Mr. C is not here to gainsay what they have to say.†
18. One of the incidents, to which I shall return, is allegation number 5, for example, where it is suggested that the father threw a mobile telephone which struck the mother giving her a black eye.† The father has a somewhat different take on it, although he accepts, broadly speaking, that he did throw it and it did come into contact with her head. The mother, having suffered a not insignificant injury as a result, was, in fact, quite generous in her evidence in respect of the father, as I say, given particularly the fact that he is not here to gainsay what she might tell me about it.† What she said in her evidence was that he was on that occasion drunk, and he did throw his phone around a lot when he was angry, but on this occasion she was not at all convinced that he actually threw it at her with the intention of hitting her.† Her evidence was that he threw it in her direction and it might have been that it struck her accidentally.† That, as I say, is clearly not an effort on her part to exaggerate, or indeed to present the circumstances in a light which is the most unfavourable to the father.† I am encouraged by the quality of her evidence, in the fact that in that respect, and some others, she has shown herself capable of being quite objective and clear in her recollection, and not prone to exaggeration.
19. Both Mr. J and Mr. H in giving their evidence have described the general demeanour of Mr. C and his very significant alcohol consumption.† But, again, in both cases, whilst they have described his somewhat unpleasant demeanour when drunk, or under the influence of drink, neither has sought to exaggerate the physical aspects of his poor behaviour when in drink, and each has said that he in fact has only observed physically violent behaviour on one occasion.† I am encouraged, again, in the veracity of their evidence by the fact that they have not, in my judgment, sought to exaggerate in any way when the opportunity presented itself and they might easily have taken it.†
20. Returning then to the allegations.† The first allegation which the father, apparently, disputes is that at number 2, which is that throughout the relationship the father exerted controlling behaviour towards the mother and controlled her relationship with her family and her friends.† It is a picture with which we are comparatively familiar in cases involving domestic violence.† The father denies it,† but contained in the police disclosure is a statement made by the mother in August 2013 in which she describes at some considerable length the sort of behaviour she complains of in the schedule, and it is a picture which is, as I have said, not an unfamiliar one.† It involves abusive behaviour, largely verbal but occasionally physically, which usually is followed by a period of apparent remorse which persuades the victim to give the perpetrator another chance.† It is a picture, as I have said, with which we are very familiar.† I entirely accept the motherís evidence in respect of that.†
21. The evidence is supported, to some extent, by Mr. J and Mr. H, who both describe the father as being entirely capable of being extremely spiteful and unpleasant when in drink, and domineering and vulgar.† That fits the pattern, it seems to me, and I entirely accept the motherís evidence that the father did behave on a regular basis in that way. I find the evidence supports the allegation contained at item number 2.†††††
22. In respect of allegation number 3, the mother alleges in her statement that the father threw a glass at her after he had been drinking.† She was pregnant at the time.† It is contained in her statement at p.B2, and, once again, also referred to in that relatively lengthy statement, which I have referred to, in the police disclosure at D119 and following.†
23. It is very clear on the evidence that Mr. C has some mental health issues, the exact nature of which, it has to be said, are not entirely clear. He appears to have been receiving treatment from medical professionals in relation to some mental health issues, and also to compound and/or exacerbate that problem he has a significant issue with over consumption of alcohol.† It is very apparent, and I accept the evidence of the mother, Mr. J and Mr. H, that the father, whilst the parties were together, was in the habit of drinking to excess several times a week to the extent whereby his functioning was significantly inhibited, slurring and being unsteady on his feet, and which resulted in him becoming verbally unpleasant on almost every occasion, as described by the witnesses.†
24. I find, particularly in the context of the other allegations, that it is entirely credible that when in drink he did throw a glass at the motherís head, as she alleges in allegation number 3.† He is clearly capable of dis-inhibited violent behaviour when in drink, and he has been in drink on a very regular and extremely frequent basis.† I accept the evidence supports a finding that in 2007, whilst she was pregnant, he threw a glass at the mother after he had been drinking.†
25. Allegation number 4 is that in 2008 he head butted the mother, knocking her across the room, because she had taken longer in running an errand than he was content with.† That is set out at para.5 of her statement at B2.† It is denied by the father in his statement, but she repeats the allegation in some greater detail in the lengthy witness statement at p.D120 in the police disclosure.† For all the reasons which I have already set out, it seems to me, once again, that this is an allegation which is entirely in keeping with the general picture.† I have already indicated that I found the motherís evidence to be impressive, and I accept her evidence on this.† I am entirely satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the evidence before me supports the conclusion that the allegation contained at item 4 in the schedule is indeed one upon which the court can make a proper finding.†
26. Allegation number 5 is that in August 2008 he threw his mobile phone at the mother causing her a black eye.† The father deals with that in his own statement, para.6 on p.B11.† He suggests that on his 40th birthday there had been a party, there had been a certain amount of drinking amongst those present, and he was woken by the mother, who had come to bed after he had. She was shouting, he says, and she slapped him, and he told her, he says, to ďFuck offĒ and threw his phone which bounced off a unit and hit her on the top of her forehead leaving an instant bruise.† He then maintains that he apologised but she left the property.†
27. The motherís version of events is that she went to check on him, wondering if he was okay following him going to bed rather the worse for drink after his BBQ for his 40th birthday, and he was angry and threw his telephone.† As I have said, in her evidence in the witness box she accepted that he might not have deliberately intended to hit her with the phone but it did in fact hit her.† It might have been an accident, he was drunk, he did that a lot when he was angry, and she suffered an injury. I am entirely content, on the evidence, to accept the motherís version of events.† It seems to me that, once again, it fits the pattern very well, he drinks too much, he goes to bed, his mood is (a) dis-inhibited, and (b) unpleasant, and when disturbed he lashes out.† Far from the mother provoking him, he threw the phone careless as to whether or not it hit her, and in fact it did strike her causing her an injury.
28. The next allegation is that in 2010 he slapped her following a confrontation over an allegation that he had been having an affair with her sister.† This is contained in the police disclosure.† The father, in his statement, denies the incident occurred, and, secondarily, denies that he had ever had an affair with the motherís sister.† The mother tells me in the witness box that although she denied it at the time her sister has subsequently admitted that they had had a brief liaison, she and Mr. C.† Again, I accept the motherís evidence on that.† I have given a number of reasons why I prefer the motherís evidence where it contradicts the fatherís.† It seems to fit the pattern.† As it turns out, I can quite see him reacting in the way that the mother suggests to being confronted with his wrongdoing, and I accept her evidence that in 2010, following an argument about his liaison with her sister, he slapped her.†
29. Allegation number 7 is that in February 2012 he pushed the mother, again when drunk, when she went to comfort the daughter, C, who was in the fatherís company.† This incident also encompasses the allegations made against the father of an assault on his own daughter, E.† E was then, I think, 17, and the child, as I say, of a relationship prior to the relationships with the mothers of either of the sets of the rest of the children.†
30. E has made a statement to the police for the purposes of prosecution, that appears at p.D65, and I, parenthetically, point out that E has also made a statement in the course of these proceedings supportive of her father in an attempt, I think, among other things, to explain the injuries to the small child, D, and exculpate the father.† So in the context of these proceedings, E has, at least in theory, thrown her hat into the fatherís side of the ring.† But in the context of this allegation she made a statement to the police which founded a potential prosecution.†
31. In the statement at D65 of the bundle, talking of the father, she says:
ďI would say he drinks heavily when he goes out, which is usually two or three times a month.† When he does drink he becomes aggressive, loud, and sometimes physical.† At about quarter-to-one in the morning on Saturday 11th February he came in through the back door.Ē
She said that she was on the sofa with her boyfriend. She said:
ďI would say he was drunk as I could smell alcohol on him and because of his behaviour.Ē†
The mother, it appears, was not present.† She says that he went upstairs and she heard D crying so she went upstairs to check but Mr. C told her to go away.† She says she went back downstairs to answer the front door and let R, the mother, in.† This was around 1 oíclock in the morning.† She says:
ďR went straight upstairs.† I ran upstairs a few minutes later and heard R say something like: ĎGet off meí.† I could see P holding C in his right arm and pushing R away with his left hand.† R was standing in the bedroom doorway at this point until P pushed her out of the room and slammed the door shut.† I then opened his bedroom door.† D was now laying on the bed.† He swung his left hand towards me with a clenched fist trying to hit me with his fist.† He then slammed the door shut, which slammed against my right hand causing pain.† The whole situation has left me really upset and scared of P.Ē††
32. That was a statement made by her on 11th February 2012.† There is a further statement made by her, which does not appear to be dated, but clearly follows it (p.D67 of the bundle) in which she says that whilst she accepts that the original statement, from which I have just read extracts, was factual she says this:
ďDuring the incident I described my dad was drunk and the way he was acting frightened me.† I love my dad and all I really wanted was for him to come back again when he was sober and normal.† He has recently got a job and I know how much that means to him and how this might affect his future.Ē†
She then goes on to say that she wants to discontinue her allegation.† The description given by E in her police statement supports very closely the motherís description of the incident.†
33. The father, however, in his statement describes the situation thus (para.17 on p.B14).† He says in 2011 they were drinking at his sisterís house.† He had had enough and wanted to go home.† The applicant stayed.† He says she later returned and came into the bedroom, he having gone home and gone to bed.† He says:†
ďI told her to leave me alone.† She was drunk again and she was trying to pick the baby up.† I got up and put the baby back in her cot.† The applicant walked out and I returned to bed.† Then the baby woke.† I picked the baby up and as I was getting back in my bed my daughter, E, opened the door.† I was not dressed so I quickly slammed the door and it accidentally trapped Eís hand.† I went back to bed and was woken by two police officers who arrested me.† I received a caution and a fine.† I pleaded guilty to avoid E having to go to court.Ē
34. I am quite satisfied, on the evidence, that the fatherís version of those events is completely untruthful.† The description given by E conforms with the motherís description, broadly speaking, and bears no relation whatsoever to the relatively exculpatory version given by the father.† He clearly is not in a position to deny some kind of an assault because he was convicted.† However, his version of events is clearly untruthful in his statement at B14, and that is certainly one factor which I take into account generally when assessing his evidence.† Objectively, the evidence before me, in particular from E, who theoretically supports him in these proceedings, clearly points to the fact that he is not telling the truth.† I accept the motherís version of events, that the father was, once again, drunk, behaving badly, clearly involving the child, C, and assaulting both the mother and E on that occasion.
35. The next allegation is that contained at number 8.† On 7th July 2013 the father, once again drunk, took umbrage at the end of an evening involving the neighbours, both Mr. J and Mr. H being present.† He became unpleasant, partly consequent on having drunk too much, and having taken umbrage for some unexplained reason, he threw a garden chair through the conservatory window, smashing it, leaving broken glass everywhere, being insulting and unpleasant, and ultimately pushing the mother into the glass on the floor, mercifully not causing her any significant injury.† He threatened Mr. H and he threatened the mother.†
36. The father suggests in his statement that far from throwing the chair through the window he punched the window and it shattered.† He describes it in apparently anodyne terms.† He maintains that he was upset because he found Mr. H and the applicant cuddling in the conservatory, and it was that which prompted his irritation.† He threw the garden chair, he says on one occasion, that did not break the window, he then punched the window and that did break the window.† He said nobody was injured, he went back to bed, and nothing further occurred.†
37. That is completely at variance with the version of events provided both by Mr. J and by Mr. H, and further, of course, by the motherís version of events.† Mr. J and Mr. H both support the motherís version.† I should say that the fatherís version is that Mr. J had already left by the time the window was broken, and that clearly is not the case on Mr. Jís own evidence.† The fatherís recollection is clearly, at the very least, in error, and, in my judgment, is frankly untrue.† He was, as I accept from the evidence of the mother, Mr. J and Mr. H, drunk and unpleasant once again, he took umbrage for some unexplained reason, and he became extremely violent, throwing a garden chair through the window, not injuring anybody more by luck than good judgment, and subsequently threatened both Mr. H and the mother.†
38. It is not clear to me whether the children were in the house at the time.† I suspect they probably were.† Whatever else, this incident clearly was one which the children might well have witnessed.† There is certainly no evidence that the father took any steps to ensure that they did not.† Had they witnessed it, it would have been extremely concerning and disturbing, probably traumatic, for them.† I should say that there is no evidence before me on any of the statements, even the fatherís, that these incidents of violence in which he was involved, and to some extent he accepts, involved any consideration at all on his part as to the sensibilities of the children, or any attempt by him to ensure that the children were not exposed to the level of bad behaviour that was exhibited.†
39. The evidence, in my judgment, very firmly supports a conclusion that the incident on 7th July 2013, when he broke the conservatory window, occurred as the mother, Mr. J, and Mr. H described and not as the father described, and I make that finding accordingly.
40. Allegation number 9 is that the father was again drunk in July, accused the mother of having an affair with Mr. H, attempted to grab her by the throat and hit her in the face. He had to be restrained by his brother-in-law.† The father denies that.† I accept, for all the reasons I have already set out, the motherís evidence in that respect, and I make the finding as sought in allegation number 9.†
41. Allegation number 10 is that in August 2013 the mother called the police because she felt the fatherís behaviour was likely to escalate.† The police did attend, and the police records show, among other things, that during the time when the police were interviewing the mother in relation to alleged domestic abuse the police were aware that Mr. C attempted to call the mother at least a dozen times whilst they were speaking to her.† The mother suggests that the father on this occasion became angry because she had placed some PIN restriction on access to information contained in her telephone.† I find this allegation proven.† It is clear that the mother made the allegation to the police contemporaneously.† The police record of the investigation fits entirely the pattern of this controlling and abusive individual.†
42. Allegation number 11 relates to the injuries to D.† It is highly unfortunate but is apparent from the documentation before me, despite it's considerable volume, that there is missing a not insignificant amount of potentially highly relevant information.† The s.7 report prepared by the Social Services, which appears in section C, records information in relation to the allegations in respect of Aís injuries, which were the catalyst for the involvement of the Social Services in the first place, which must be taken from information from other sources available to the Social Services which has not been placed in the bundle before me.†
43. It is clear, both from the police reports and from the record of the social workerís investigations, that there must be, apart from anything else, some record from the hospital, and from the doctors, as to what was observed and what explanations were given.† None of that material is before me, save in the most indirect sense.†
44. The indirect sense is that both the police and the social worker record that the health professionals took the view at the time that the injuries exhibited by the child in September 2013 were not in accordance with the explanation given by the father.† The child was found, as is set out on p.C25 in the social workerís evidence, to have relatively extensive bruising, and the explanation given was that the child somehow had either been ejected from or fallen out of her cot.† The health professionals took the view, quite reasonably it seems to me even on my limited understanding of what was observed, that the explanation given was unlikely to explain the extensive injuries which do not appear to be explicable on the basis of one single incident.†
45. The apparent incident is, however, supported by a statement provided by E, the fatherís elder child, who, supposedly, was present in the room, although asleep, when the alleged incident occurred, i.e. that D was ejected by one of her siblings from her cot, or fell out.† The father, apparently, was asleep downstairs.† He suggests that, hearing the commotion, he went upstairs to discover that the child was injured.† The children themselves have been questioned, to some extent, by the social worker, without much further information being provided. It is apparent, whether or not the father was directly involved, that there were injuries to this child which he did not take significant steps to have investigated, indeed he did nothing until the mother appeared the following day to take over the care of the children. She became concerned in respect of the apparent injuries and took the child to the hospital where they were recorded and the police and the Social Services, as a result, were involved.†
46. The Social Servicesí and police's conclusions, based upon, as I say, medical evidence which I have not seen, were that these injuries were unexplained.† The police, however, have taken the view that they cannot pursue the matter further for the purposes of criminal proceedings as the evidence does not support a conclusion that either E or Mr. C himself were directly involved in the cause of these injuries.†
47. Unfortunately, I do not think I can come to any firm conclusion as to the cause of the injuries to this child.† Given the seriousness of such a conclusion, it seems to me the evidence does not support, on the balance of probabilities, a conclusion that Mr C was directly responsible for the injuries to this child.† What I think I can conclude, however, on the basis of the evidence before me, is that the injuries are currently unexplained, there is no explanation provided which accords with the extent of the injuries, and that they occurred at a time when Mr. C, the father, was responsible for the supervision and protection of the children.† At the very least, as Mr. Simison suggests, the conclusion of the court is that they result from a failure to supervise the children appropriately, amounting, clearly, to neglect and resulting in a small child being the victim of not insignificant injuries.†
48. Therefore, it seems to me that it is open to me, on the balance of probabilities, to conclude that the injuries to D can be categorised as falling within the ambit of a failure on Mr. Cís part to exercise proper supervision and to take proper care of the children whilst he was directly responsible for them. Beyond that, there, as yet, has not been provided any adequate explanation for the injuries which this child received.† Furthermore, I conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that Mr. C did not take appropriate action to seek medical advice in relation to the injuries as swiftly as he should have done.
49. The other outstanding allegations I have already dealt with, 12 and 14.†† They are the subject of convictions in the Magistrates Court.†
50. Accordingly, those are the findings which I make on the basis of the evidence before me on the balance of probabilities.† In the circumstances, in the absence of Mr. C and in the absence of any submissions made on his behalf, and taking into account the failure of Mr. C to exercise any contact since November, including not sending the children any wishes or presents either for Christmas or for birthdays which have occurred in the meantime, that it is appropriate first of all that a transcript of this judgment should be prepared, that being a necessary and proportionate charge on applicant motherís public funding certificate, and, secondarily, that there should be an order that there be no contact going forward save by agreement with the mother in accordance with the advice of Essex Social Services. In due course a copy of the transcript must be served on Essex Social Services, and appropriately redacted it will be published.