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COUNCIL MAY NOW BE UNABLE TO SEVER CONTACT BETWEEN CHILDREN AND THE FATHER SUSPECTED OF INJURING THEM

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A north Yorkshire father suspected of causing 'dreadful injuries' to two of his four young children has won a vital...
A north Yorkshire father suspected of causing 'dreadful injuries' to two of his four young children has won a vital round of his legal fight to maintain contact with the youngsters.

In January a county court judge said he could make no firm decision on who had caused the children's injuries, but added: 'The finger of blame points strongly at the father.'

The four children, all of them aged under four, were taken into care by North Yorkshire CC when the injuries were discovered and have been placed with foster parents.

And, after a seven-day trial at Middlesbrough County Court, Judge Taylor in January opened the way for the council to sever all contact between the children and their father.

Yesterday at the appeal court, Lord Justice Ward overturned that decision and ordered a reconsideration of the father's plea to maintain contact.

He said greater confusion could be created for the children if they kept contact with their mother but not their father who could come to represent an 'ogre' in their minds as they grow up.

The benefits to the children of 'keeping the link alive' were the same for both their mother and their father, he added.

The appeal judge's ruling opens the way for the father to re-apply for contact rights when the case goes back to the county court next month when foster parents will apply to adopt the children.

In his ruling in January, Judge Taylor said that, although his main suspicion fell on the father, he could not exclude the possibility the mother had also been involved.

But he said that, 'in all probability', one of them was responsible for the children's injuries, including multiple broken ribs, and the other parent had known what was happening.

Whichever of the couple had not caused the injuries would have to 'carry to their grave' the knowledge that they had not protected the children, Judge Taylor said at the time.

Lord Justice Ward told the appeal court the parents had given up all hope of having the children returned to their care, and it was now almost inevitable that their adoption would go through next month.

Overturning Judge Taylor's decision on the father's contact rights, he said he sympathised with the judge who had otherwise dealt with an extremely difficult case flawlessly.

But Lord Justice Ward concluded: 'The judge did not fully explain his reasons (for ending the father's contact) and may not have thought the matter through as carefully as he normally would.'

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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