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(Sir Mark Hedley, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, 29 January 2013)
The youngest of three siblings died at 10 weeks with extensive injuries including all three features of the triad. During care proceedings one medical opinion was that these were non-accidental injuries while another was that the child's skull was of such an unusual nature that it was impossible to conclude how it would react to any level of force and, therefore, it was not possible to determine the mechanism of the injury let alone attribute parental culpability. In previous proceedings the mother was found responsible for three fractures sustained by the middle child who was then placed with the paternal grandmother while the oldest child returned home. The youngest child was born at around that time and the entire family was subject to close supervision and local authority scrutiny.
The local authority had now concluded that the interests of the children required the eventual reunification of the family and now sought permission to withdraw the fact-finding hearing.
The local authority was granted permission to withdraw the fact-finding hearing. In respect of bruising caused to the middle child, the injury matched the history and the requisite standard of proof that this was non-accidental would not be met. A fact-finding hearing of the issue of bruising would be disproportionate, unnecessary and unjustifiable.
In future management of the case the parents had to be treated on the basis that they bore no culpable responsibility for the death of the youngest child or bruising to the middle child. A welfare hearing could now take place.