IN THE MATTER OF Sections 31 THE CHILDREN ACT 1989
AND IN THE MATTER OF Y (A boy born [a date in] 2008) & Z (A girl born on [a date in] 2015)
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| A LOCAL AUTHORITY
Y & Z
(Children by their guardian)
Allison Munroe (instructed by Osbornes Solicitors) for the First Respondent
David Bedingfield (instructed by Guile Nicholas) for the Second Respondent
William Baker (instructed by Bhatia Best Solicitors) for the Third Respondent
Pamela Warner (instructed by Bindmans) for the Fourth and Fifth Respondents
Hearing dates: 30th and 31st October 2017
Crown Copyright ©
The Honourable Ms Justice Russell DBE:
Criminal trial and sentencing remarks
Agreed s31 threshold criteria
1) At the relevant date, being March 2016 when proceedings commenced, the children were suffering, or were likely to suffer, significant harm; and that the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to the care given to the children, or likely to be given to them if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to them.
2) The harm the children were suffering or are likely to suffer is sexual, physical and emotional harm.
3) [FG] presents a risk of sexual harm to children –
a) [FG] is a schedule 1 offender. He was convicted on 7th July 2017 of 14 offences as set out in the certificate of conviction, in summary the offences were -
i) five offences of indecent assault against a child;
ii) our offences of indecency with a child;
iii) three offences of rape;
iv) two offences of cruelty to a young person.
b) The offences were committed over a period between March 1999 and April 2014.
c) The victim of all of the sexual offences was [X], who was [FG's] step daughter. She was approximately 12-13 years old when the first offence was committed against her.
d) FG entered into a [sexual] relationship with X. He had previously been married to X's mother and for the period 1999 onwards when X was 11 years old, he had been her step-father. He was approximately 14 years older than X. (X born: [a date in] 87, FG born [a date in] 73).
e) In the period 2012-2013 W, [FG's daughter] had been sexually abusing her younger half siblings. FG and X were aware of this behaviour but failed to report it or seek professional help. [H2-3]
f) Upon conviction, FG was sentenced to a total of 22 years, comprising 6 years for each of the offences of indecent assault and indecency with a child; 18 years for the rape offences to run concurrently and 4 years for the child cruelty offences to run consecutively. In reaching that sentence the sentencing judge took into account:
i) The incidents of rape took place shortly after the victim turned 13;
ii) FG groomed the victim to an extent that was tantamount to 'brainwashing';
iii) FG insisted the victim keep details of his actions secret;
iv) FG's actions amounted to a massive abuse of trust;
v) The offences took place over a very, very long time on many, many occasions.
g) An indefinite sexual offences prevention order was made at the time of sentencing.
4) FG presents a risk of physical harm to children
a) Two of the offences for which FG was convicted were offences of child cruelty.
b) The victim of the cruelty to a young person was FG's daughter, W, who was under the age of 16 at the material time.
c) On 25th October 2015 the First Respondent called the police to FG's home after FG had become aggressive towards her during an argument and smashed her mobile telephone and iPad. [C44 § 4] [C297 § 9]
5) The children have been exposed to arguments between M and FG and have suffered emotional harm.
a) On 25th October 2015 the First Respondent called the police to M's home after FG had become aggressive towards her during an argument and smashed her mobile telephone and iPad. [C44 § 4] [C297 § 9]
6) The First [M] and Second Respondents [FG] have been unable or unwilling to adhere to restrictions put in place to safeguard the children and the children have been thereby exposed to risk of harm
a) FG signed a written agreement at court on 9th March 2016. He breached the written agreement in that -
i) He attended at the [M]'s address and he had contact with the children other than agreed in advance with the local authority.
ii) FG spent time at the [M]'s home in the weeks before she fled to Kenya in November 2016.
b) The First Respondent signed a written agreement at court on 9th March 2016. She breached the written agreement in that -
i) she failed to inform the local authority that FG had attended at her address.
ii) she failed to inform the local authority that FG had had contact with the children other that agreed in advance with the local authority.
iii) she allowed FG to visit her home on a regular basis in the period preceding her removal of the children to Kenya.
iv) She allowed FG to have contact that was not authorized by the local authority.
c) The First Respondent breached the court order of 31.03.16 in that
i) she applied for travel documents for the children when she had been prohibited from making such application.
ii) she took the children to Kenya knowing the court had put in place restrictions in the order of 31.03.16 specifically to prevent her from removing the children from the jurisdiction.
7) The First Respondent failed to act to protect her children from the risk of harm from FG -
a) She was aware that FG was being investigated by the police but failed to ascertain the precise details of the offences for which he was being investigated, and only discovered the extent of the allegations against him when told by the local authority at a child protection conference in November 2015.
b) She continued her relationship with FG notwithstanding becoming aware that he had previously been in a sexual relationship with his step-daughter and it was his step-daughter who had made allegations against him.
c) She failed to separate and/or maintain a separation from FG.
d) She continued to support contact between FG and her son Y, notwithstanding the serious allegations against him and he own perception of him being emotional abusive and controlling.
e) She allowed FG to have contact that was not authorized by the local authority.
f) she allowed FG to visit her home on a regular basis in the period preceding her removal of the children to Kenya.
8) The First Respondent is unable or unwilling to work in an open and co-operative way with professionals to allow the risk of harm to her children to be minimized and/or to promote their welfare
a) She either lied to the local authority and the court when she said that she had ended her relationship when she was continuing the relationship, or failed to inform the local authority/court that she had resumed her relationship with FG notwithstanding having previously asserted that the relationship was over and in doing so, she deliberately misled the local authority and the court into thinking that the relationship between her and FG had ceased.
b) She failed to disclose to the local authority until December 2016 that she regarded herself as being the victim of sustained and undermining emotional abuse and controlling behaviour in her relationship with FG. In failing to disclose this information, the mother failed to secure assistance from the professionals which would have allowed her to separate from FG.
c) When the First Respondent returned to the UK she went back to live with FG.
d) She breached the written agreement and the court order of 31.03.16 (see 6 (iii) & (iv) above)
e) She lied to the police who attended to take her passport in November pursuant to the order of the court, saying that she could not find it. C287.18
f) She refused to give details of the address at which the children were staying until brought to court on 25th November, and then failed to provide all of the information the local authority had requested [B122 recitals C and D]
9) FG is unable or unwilling to work in an open and co-operative way with professionals to allow the risk of harm to the children to be minimized
a) He failed to inform the local authority/court that he had resumed his relationship with the First Respondent notwithstanding having previously asserted that the relationship was over, and in doing so, he deliberately misled the local authority and the court into thinking that the relationship between him and the First Respondent had ceased.
b) He has consistently maintained his innocence in respect of the criminal charges against him against the weight of evidence meaning that no therapeutic work could be put in place.
c) He breached the conditions of his bail and the written agreement. (see 6 (i) and (ii) above)
d) In the period 2012-2013 W had been sexually abusing her younger half siblings. FG and X were aware of this behaviour but failed to report it or seek professional help. [H2-3]
10) The First Respondent has a good and warm relationship with her children and is capable of meeting their practical care needs, but she failed to prioritise the needs of her children
a) She continued her relationship with FG against the advice of the professionals without consideration of the risk of harm to her children.
b) She took the children out of the jurisdiction to Kenya without informing the court or the local authority. She informed the court via her solicitor that she did not see herself returning to England anytime soon.
c) She removed Y from his school and made no alternative arrangements for him to attend school. He was not attending school or receiving any formal education from the time of his removal in November 2016 until he was returned to the UK in June 2017.
d) Less than a fortnight after going to Kenya, she left the children with their grandmother while she returned to the UK. Neither child had previously met their grandmother and they were distressed at being left by their mother.
e) Her stated plan was to return to collect the children on 5th December. Even on this plan she was not proposing being with her daughter on her first birthday.
f) She refused to give the local authority contact details for her sister so that they could assess her as a potential carer for the children when they returned to the UK so that placement in foster care could be avoided [B122 recital F]
11) FG subjected M to sustained emotional abuse in the course of their relationship
a) he was a very dominant and controlling presence in the home and would lose his temper very quickly over small, trivial matters.
b) he would try to control who M saw and spoke to and aspects of her life inside and outside the home.
i) FG did not allow M to have friends independent of him
ii) FG would insist that M speak to her friends, male or female at home so that he could monitor her telephone calls
iii) FG would check M's mobile phone to see who she had been calling or speaking to
iv) FG would check M's Facebook activities during the day
v) FG would ring M constantly during the day
vi) FG would become angry if M spoke in her own language to her friends and family as he could not understand what was being said and therefore could not control or monitor the conversations
c) FG would criticize and undermine M as a person -
i) FG would expect M to wait hand and foot on him and would expect meals served in a particular way, wine poured for him and if not done correctly he would explode in anger
ii) FG would expect M to run his bath for him and if it was not the correct temperature for him he became extremely abusive verbally towards her.
12) On 8th November, having become aware of the children's removal or imminent removal from the jurisdiction to Kenya by M, FG failed to notify the court or the parties of this in a timely way.
13) FR has failed to protect his son
a) He has not played any significant role in his son's life for many years.
b) He has failed to ensure that his son's physical, emotional and educational needs were being met.
c) He has failed to demonstrate any interest in the current and future welfare of his son, in that he has failed to attend court for any of the hearings and failed to give instructions to his solicitors on a consistent basis.