P (Sexual abuse), Re  EWFC B120 (11 August 2015)
This was a Judgment given by Her Honour Judge Penna at the final hearing in Care and Placement proceedings on 13 – 16th July 2015. These proceedings were issued by the Local Authority in respect of the welfare of 4 children. The 1st Respondent was the mother of the children and the 2nd Respondent was the father of the children.
The Local Authority issued their Care Application, and subsequently their Placement Application, due to concerns in relation to sexual abuse allegations. An anonymous referral had been received stating that one of the children had been heard saying that the mother’s 19 year old male friend had been having sex with her. It was also reported that the mother had been heard telling the child to keep quiet. The police became involved and Social Services’ investigations took place, with further sexual abuse concerns being raised about another of the children. Concerns were also raised in relation to the maternal and paternal grandparents. This was due to the parents stating that the mother herself had been sexually assaulted by her father and her grandfather and also that the paternal grandfather was a convicted sex offender. The Local Authority also found that other social care bodies had been involved with the family due to concerns about physical assault and risk of sexual abuse.
During the course of the proceedings various experts were instructed including an Adult Psychologist and a Child Psychologist. Various medical reports were received, which raised concerns about the physical, mental and emotional states of the children. The Local Authority’s plan was for the children to be placed outside of the birth family, with the youngest child to be adopted. The parents opposed the Local Authority’s plan, with the main focus of their opposition being the plan of adoption for the youngest child.
Upon making her Judgment, Her Honour Judge Penna considered all the evidence and experts’ reports available, including the report of Dr Smurthwaite which outlined serious concerns. The evidence given in cross examination by the family’s Social Worker was also considered, which highlighted her continued concerns about the children and the fact that she had not seen a change in the parents. In her Judgement, Her Honour Judge Penna accepted that the parents loved their children, but that their evidence only highlighted ‘the distance between their loving intention and their practical ability to fulfill it.’ The concerns of the Local Authority, the Social Worker and the experts were accepted therefore Her Honour Judge Penna made Care Orders in respect of all 4 children. A Placement Order was also made in respect of the youngest child and the consent of the parents was dispensed with.
The full judgment can be read here