(Court of Appeal, Elias, Pitchford LJJ, Sir Alan Ward, 21 March 2013)
In care proceedings the 15-year-old boy, who had been joined as a party, sought permission to give evidence in person as he did not feel the strength of his feelings were being understood. The application was dismissed in the county court and care orders were made in respect of the boy and his younger half-sibling. The boy appealed.
The children had been removed into care due to concerns of neglect after the mother planned to leave the children while they were at school without making any provision for their care. While in foster care the boy absconded and had unofficial contact with his mother but had now settled well into a different foster home. However, he remained adamant in his wish to return home.
The judge had taken account of relevant matters and disregarded irrelevant matters in arriving at a conclusion that was plainly and obviously correct. She had explained the procedure to the boy, did not need to see him again or hear him give evidence. The harm to him far exceeded the benefit to the judge. That part of the appeal had to be dismissed.
The judge had also been absolutely right in making the care order. The bleak fact was that this was a feckless mother who put her own needs before those of the children. Having found the threshold crossed, the judge was left with no alternative but to grant the care order. The appeal would be dismissed.