02 May Re L
In this case we represented the mother in respect of her young child. The child presented with petechial bruising to the stomach and legs. The child was immediately presented to hospital given his young age where more appeared while the child was waiting to be seen. He was examined and it was observed that in the ensuing 24 hour period almost all of the bruises disappeared completely, and the very faint remainder resolved shortly thereafter. Despite this, it was concluded that the marks had been bruises by the treating paediatrician and possible NAI was reported to Children’s Services. The Local Authority issued proceedings. A Paediatrician was instructed to assist the Court who concluded that the marks were bruises, likely caused by very brief excessive gripping over clothing causing the petechial bruising that rapidly resolved. The mother accepted the medical opinion but contended that she had not knowingly caused the bruises to the child and could not point to any specific event, but accepted that as this was her first child she could have caused the bruises by accident through inexperienced handling. The father was willing to accept the same. The Local Authority stuck rigidly to the view of the expert that the person causing the bruises would have known they were causing them at the time, and therefore the parent’s concessions were not enough to satisfy them that a fact finding was not required. The mother had been the model parent throughout. She had shown genuine heartbreak and concern for her baby throughout and devoted herself like no other to work alongside the Local Authority. The case proceeded to a Fact Finding Hearing where on Day 1 the Local Authority confirmed that they would not be perusing any findings against the mother and therefore the Court was invited to formally exculpate the mother of any wrongdoing, which it did when the Judgment was given and all of the findings were made against the father. The child returned to the sole care of the mother the same day.