Non Accidental Injury

Family, Children and Care Work

In the case of Re H-W (children) (care proceedings: non-accidental injury) [2012], The Court of Appeal allowed a father’s appeal against a finding of causing long term harm to his child.

The local authority had commenced care proceedings following concerns focusing on injuries sustained to the younger of two siblings.  The child had been admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties.  The child was found to have bleeding at the back of the throat and it was the authority’s opinion that this had been caused by one of the parents.

The judge had found that the injury had been caused by the misguided actions of the father who had tried to clear mucous from the child’s throat with his finger.  It was ruled that although this action was inadvertent, it was dangerous and not what was expected of a parent and therefore reached the threshold of Section 31 of the Childrens Act 1989.  This section of the Act deals with care orders and supervision orders in respect of children who they believe are suffering or are likely to suffer significant harm.

The father appealed.

The appeal was allowed on the basis that the actions of an anxious father could not support a finding of long term harm to the child or the sibling.  The judge had also not properly examined what was reasonably expected of a parent in such circumstances.

If you would like advice on children matters please contact our Family Law Department for a free, no obligation, appointment on Eastbourne 01323 727321 or Hailsham 01323 841481.