Judge orders child to see mum accused of sex abuse

Home UK News Judge orders child to see mum accused of sex abuse
Judge orders child to see mum accused of sex abuse

By Jonny Humphries,BBC News, Liverpool

BBC A child holding a teddy bearBBC

The child had been “scared and tearful” during a video-call with her mother

A judge in Liverpool ordered social services to arrange face-to-face contact between a “scared” toddler and a mother charged with sexually abusing her, a court has heard.

The local authority dealing with the case, which has not been named, appealed against the ruling, which senior judges have since called “fundamentally flawed”.

The girl, three, had been removed from her mother’s care in January after her arrest on suspicion of sexually assaulting a child, which she denied.

A spokesman for the Judiciary said it would not comment beyond what had been written in the judgment from the Court of Appeal in London.

‘Scared and tearful’

The court heard the mother had gone to police on 1 January to report her ex-boyfriend for sexually abusing her daughter about 20 months earlier.

The 20-year-old woman showed officers an explicit image on her mobile phone to back-up her claim, which “implicated” her former partner.

But police experts recovered another explicit image which she had recently deleted, allegedly providing evidence the mother was herself involved in the abuse.

“Potentially incriminating” text messages were also recovered.

The mother and her ex-boyfriend were each charged with sexually assaulting a child, taking indecent photographs of a child and possessing indecent images.

The mother denied the offences and is on bail awaiting trial, while her ex-boyfriend pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentence.

Care proceedings were initiated and an interim hearing was held at the family court in Liverpool on 27 February.

The Royal Courts of Justice

The Court of Appeal described the ruling as “fundamentally flawed”

At that hearing, judge Thomas Greensmith set out a “road-map” regarding contact which involved video-calls between mother and daughter progressing to direct contact three times a week.

However, the video calls were “unsuccessful”, with a social worker noting the child was “scared and tearful” and “resistant” to speaking to her mother, who she described as “naughty mummy”.

The local authority and the children’s guardian – an independent social worker appointed to represent the child’s best interests – returned to court to express their concerns and asked the judge to restrict contact to one video call a week for the time being.

The mother’s legal team argued the calls were “improving” and asked the court to order twice-weekly direct contact.

Judge Greensmith sided against social services and criticised them for “taking the word of a very young child”.

He told the authority: “There really needs to be direct contact, even if it’s just for a few minutes.”

The Court of Appeal said in a written judgment that Judge Greensmith had made his decision “without any meaningful consideration of [the child’s] current welfare”.

Judge Greensmith’s ruling was set aside and the case was remitted to a different judge.

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