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Miss Maureen Obi-Ezekpazu appeared on behalf of the Father.
Miss Samantha King appeared on behalf of the Child.
Crown Copyright ©
HER HONOUR JUDGE HAMMERTON:
" J had trashed the house with a hammer and shot his dad with pellets from an air gun. Dad stated that the incident had started today as a result of something dad told him. It was noted that whilst on the phone to police dad left the address as he was afraid of what J might do."
It was recorded that the father was advised that J was a 12 year old child. The response was that dad could not restrain J, as J would call him a "Paedophile". The father believed that J was not mentally stable.
"Dad continued to refuse to accept any part of blame for the parenting concerns of J and insisted on placing full blame on to Social Services."
Following that visit a referral was made to Social Services by the police.
"The suspect called the police to report that the victim had been causing damage to his property by smashing items and using matches. He said that he had been threatening to set himself on fire. He wanted police to discipline his son. He mentioned that he had been in contact with officers previously and was not happy as to how it was dealt with. The suspect was given advice to contact Social Services but states he did not think they would be able to help him."
It was not possible for the police to attend at the father's home that evening.
"That the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm."
"That the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to the care given to the child or likely to be given to him if the order were not made not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give him."
The Evidence of Miss Palles
The Film from the Body Cam Footage
"It was distressing to see the family home in that state. As a social worker I felt I had been unable to protect him. I did not know how long he had been living in that environment."
The police evidence
"What I said is that it was my right to leave the country."
Counsel on his behalf denied that any threats had been made by the father.
"Father has physically harmed J on more than one occasion."
The allegation as pleaded is imprecise. It reflects the statements made by J during his meeting with Miss Palles and the police officer on the 15th April. The statement as recorded by the police officer was that J said that he was punching his dad and he, that is a reference to the father, punched him in the face. He said it happened about a week before he came into care and that he sustained a cut to his lip. The matter was set out within Miss Palles's statement in terms that the week before he was removed from his father's care his dad had punched him on his face and his lip was bruised. The incident happened within the home.
"May be he has been drugged by Social Services?"
"Not now. He did when I was little."
"Father has been unable to stop J setting fire to objects within the home and has permitted matches to be left on the floor leaving J at risk of physical harm due to fire setting."
The evidence in respect of this comes from the film and the documents from the police. The film footage shows matches scattered on the floor in the bedroom, on the stairs and in the living room. The film shows a mark on the stairs at the time described by the police officer as a "scorch" mark. She relates that she had been told by the father that he had put out the fire with water.
"The home conditions are dangerous, in particular knives are within easy reach of J and broken glass is present within various rooms in the home. Some pieces of broken glass are 1 to 2 centimetres in size."
On the 9th April broken glass was observed within the home. This included shards of glass on the living room floor. There was also a broken fish tank. There was glass on the kitchen floor. The broken glass was seen by Miss Palles and recorded in her detailed note and by the police officers, PC Sheppard and PC Roostan. PC Sheppard noted that the glass on the living room floor had not been there on her previous visit on the 5th April. PC Roostan in his statement records that when referring to the broken glass over the floor he asked the father why he had not made the floor safe. The father's reply was that it was for J to do so as it was J who had created the mess. The broken glass can be seen on the film footage. In addition there are the jagged edges of what appears to be a fish tank in the living room.
"Father lacks empathy and is unable to provide sensitive parenting.
Father has difficulties separating his needs and feelings from J's.
The father fails to understand the impact that his actions and mistakes have on J.
Father is rigid of thought, inflexible and egocentric. This impacts on his ability to consider the views of others to provide for J's emotional needs.
Father does not have the capacity to provide emotional warmth, unconditional acceptance and nurture for J.
Father places excessive pressure on J. As a result of the above J feels trapped and has both hidden from his father and presented aggressively towards his father, smashing walls in the home and threatening to set himself on fire."
The final paragraph is possibly the best place to commence an examination of this overall allegation which is one of emotional harm.
"Not because of my parenting. He has not hidden from me. Rather, he hid beneath the piano from the police."
There is of course clear evidence that demonstrates that the behaviour of J as of March/April 2014 was causing the father to be concerned. This was to the extent that he sought medical help, initially with his call to the emergency services on the 26th March and thereafter making an appointment with the General Practitioner on the 9th April. He also sought help from the police.
"He tore up his paintings, photos, broke two monitors, five mobile phones and lamps, just as examples. He also damaged the house in a systematic way, putting water to Grand Piano, putting paint all over house. He was hiding the games."
In oral evidence the father accepted that J had put a hammer to the wall which had caused a hole. He denied that J had trashed the house and he repeated that J had not made a threat to set himself alight and this was said solely to cause the police to attend.
"The father said he will be hiding and that he does this quite regularly."
The officer then relates how he and PC Sheppard searched all areas of the house but were unable to find J. They became worried and thought that he might have left through the front door and gone missing. They were concerned that the father appeared unconcerned as to this. Eventually J was found in the loft although it was unclear as to how he had climbed into the loft. The loft ladder was not in place.
"I have no doubt that as set out by the Guardian this is a case in which it is imperative that the conflict comes to an end. It may well be that notwithstanding the conclusion of the proceedings the father will continue with his campaigns against the Local Authority. In that case unless the father takes steps to exclude J from involvement and protect him from the ill-effects of his campaigning there is the risk of further emotional harm to J."
"Everything disappears. He has no insight into himself, J's needs or their relationship."
"The officers observed the house was in a state of untidiness and disrepair and it was cluttered and hazardous. There was old rotting food on plates around the home and dirty crockery also. There was broken glass on the kitchen floor which itself was filthy with spilled coffee. The dirty plates and cups and old food were piled on the sides."
"I am willing to work with professionals. However, I find it particularly difficult when professionals seek to undermine my parental responsibility as they consistently have. My parenting is not perfect and I accept this. However, it is very difficult to work with professionals who undermine my parenting at the same time. I did work with the Local Authority in 2013 to the extent that they agreed and returned J to my care. I continued to work with them, including dozens of social workers, and the IRO."
"I don't think I could even begin to give you an answer to reunification."
"There are no features of psychological or personality disorder. There are however features of paranoid ideation and traits which are related to his fundamental lack of basic trust and suspiciousness. The father also presents with strong egocentric thought processes where he views the world and how things relate to him with a concerning lack of empathy. His lack of empathy is evident in his tendency to lose sight of the needs and emotional well-being of his son and he has difficulty separating the needs and feelings of the children from his own needs and thus views J as an extension of himself rather than a person in his own right with his own experiences and needs. As a result of that father has difficulty in acknowledging concerns."
" J has had to learn how to read his father and respond accordingly. He knows what to say to try to keep the situation calm."