P-K (Children), Court of Appeal - Civil Division, July 12, 2017, [2017] EWCA Civ 965

Issuing Organization:Civil Division
Actores:P-K (Children)
Resolution Date:July 12, 2017

Neutral Citation Number: [2017] EWCA Civ 965

Case No: B4/2016/0349



His Honour Judge Orrell


Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 12/07/2017






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Ms Langdale QC & Ms Croxford (instructed by French & Company Solicitors) for the Appellant

Miss Isaacs QC & Ms Jones (instructed by Derby City Council Legal Department) for the Respondent

Hearing date: 6 April 2017

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Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President:

  1. This is an application for permission to appeal findings of fact made by His Honour Judge Orrell on 17 December 2009. The findings were made in public law children proceedings heard in the Derby County Court. The child concerned was born in 2009. The parties to the proceedings were the local authority applicant, Derby City Council, the child's mother, the child's father, the mother's then partner and the child, by her children's guardian.

  2. The child concerned had been admitted to hospital on 5 June 2009 as a consequence of which medical investigations and examinations were conducted. The local authority issued care proceedings and alleged that the child had sustained injuries which were inflicted. Within the proceedings expert evidence was commissioned about the cause of the child's injuries. The experts included Dr Stephen Chapman, consultant paediatric radiologist, Mr Peter Richards, consultant neurosurgeon, Dr Neil Stoodley, consultant neuroradiologist, and Dr Ian Mecrow, consultant paediatrician. Prior to the finding of fact hearing, the experts had answered various questions asked of them by the parties with the approval of the judge.

  3. The hearing took place on 17 December 2009. The mother, her partner and the partner's half-sister who was living in the household with them gave oral evidence. Evidence was also given by Dr Chapman. After Dr Chapman had given evidence the court adjourned to allow instructions to be taken. When the hearing resumed the judge released the remaining expert witnesses.

  4. The judge in his judgment made the following findings:

    a. ``The brain injuries were non accidental and in all probability were inflicted during the night or early morning of the 4-5 June 2009 by shaking or shaking together with impact against a soft surface. These injuries were caused whilst [the child] was in the care of either the Mother or [her partner] or in the care of both of them.''

    b. ``The injuries to [the child's] lower limbs are very likely to have been sustained on a single occasion and were caused either by [the child] being held by the calves or by being shaken. The evidence suggests that it is likely that the injuries to the brain and those to the lower limbs were sustained during the same incident. The injuries to the lower limbs were also non accidental and were sustained whilst [the child] was in the care of the Mother or [her partner] or in the care of both of them.''

  5. The effect of those findings was that the judge excluded two adults from the pool of possible perpetrators (the partner's half-sister and the child's maternal grandmother) but left the mother and her partner in that pool. As a consequence, the child was made the subject of a care order on 18 March 2010 and placed with her maternal grandmother where she remains. Mother's second child was born on 19 April 2010 shortly after the conclusion of the proceedings. He was placed with his paternal grandmother, in whose favour a special guardianship order was made. Mother's third child also lives with maternal grandmother following care proceedings. The family household is no longer the same as that which existed when the circumstances that led to the findings of fact were made ie the partner is no longer in the household or in contact with the mother.

  6. An issue has arisen about the risk to which each of the children might be subject if in the care of the mother or in contact with her and that issue has triggered...

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