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The sleeping conundrum: the legal framework around fact-finding on ‘overlaying’

Date:24 JUL 2023
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Kevin Gordon Head of Family at 5 Pump Court Chambers

Many people use the terms ‘bed-sharing’ and ‘co-sleeping’ to describe the same thing but there are differences: co-sleeping is when a parent and child sleep in close social or physical contact of each other meaning that each can tell that the other is nearby. The practice of co-sleeping can lead to overlaying or overlying. When an infant is overlain by an adult or older child it can lead to amongst others the infant’s face being pressed into the bedding with resultant smothering; pressure on the infant’s thorax and abdomen can prevent respiration which can lead to death by asphyxiation. 

This article explores the ‘untrodden’ path of whether overlaying can cause rib fracture in infants and the approach currently exercised by the court in grappling with this ‘theoretical’ possibility. This article will examine reported case laws and identify specific themes or agreement arising from the medical evidence. It will then provide a review of the approach taken by the court when dealing with such findings against the standard of proof: balance of probability ...

Read the full article here.