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(Court of Appeal, Patten, McFarlane, Floyd LJJ, 4 September 2013)
The parents' first child died at an early age of natural causes but had been found to have suffered multiple rib fractures.
When the second child was born a fact-finding hearing took place and the judge found the father to have perpetrated the non-accidental injuries against the first child. She also found that the grandmother had coerced the mother into concealing the history of domestic violence. Findings were made as to domestic violence by both the mother and the father during the relationship.
The father and paternal grandmother, opposed by the local authority and the mother, appealed that finding.
The Court of Appeal found that although the evidence was sufficient to support a finding against the father, the same could be said in the case of the mother. There was insufficient evidence to support a positive finding that the father was the sole perpetrator and that conclusion could not stand. Both parents would be left in the pool of potential perpetrators.
As a result of that decision the finding that the grandmother knew the father was the sole perpetrator could not stand and would be set aside. However, the judge was fully entitled to find that the grandmother had not been truthful in her evidence and that she had advised the mother to not disclose the domestic violence history and those findings would stand.
The father's appeal was allowed and the grandmother's appeal allowed in part.