A judge has concluded that Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter, who complained that their child had been handed over for adoption despite a cruelty prosecution against them being abandoned, were not the victims of a miscarriage of justice.
The couple said they had been unfairly blamed by Surrey County Council social workers and a family court judge, but Sir James Munby concluded their child was the victim of “really serious” abuse and “cruelty”.
Here’s how events unfolded over the past six years:
– Social services staff at Surrey County Council raise concerns, shortly after the child is born.
– Staff say medics had found the child had broken bones in an arm and leg, a torn upper lip frenulum – caused by a blow or by “an object being rammed into the mouth” – plus bruises on the chest, stomach, legs, arms and back.
– They say one or other parent, or both, inflicted serious injuries on the child shortly after birth.
– The couple deny the allegations.
– A family court judge begins to analyse the case and makes a number of findings, on the balance of probabilities, against the couple.
– Judge Peter Nathan analyses evidence during a private hearing at Guildford County Court and later rules that the child should be placed with prospective adoptive parents.
– The child is adopted.
– The couple are prosecuted, accused of child cruelty, but are later acquitted.
– A trial at Guildford Crown Court, overseen by Judge Christopher Critchlow, is abandoned after one medical expert says he cannot be sure that the child suffered fractures.
– Prosecutors tell Judge Critchlow that, in the light of that evidence, they cannot be sure there is a realistic prospect of conviction on a beyond-reasonable-doubt basis.
– Ms Cox and Mr Carter complain of being victims of a miscarriage of justice, decide to tell their story to the public, and mount an appeal against findings made by Judge Nathan.
– Sir James begins to review the case, when he is president of the Family Division of the High Court, and hears evidence at an appeal hearing in London.
– He says he has considered the evidence of more than a dozen medical experts and seen all the expert evidence available to Judge Nathan and Judge Critchlow.
– The couple had initially wanted Judge Nathan’s adoption order overturned and the child returned to their care, but at an early stage of the review process they tell Sir James they have changed their minds.
– They say it is “too late” for the child to leave the adoptive parents and that returning the youngster to their care would not be the “right thing”.
– Sir James says he has decided to continue with the review hearing and analyse all available evidence.
– In his review ruling published on Friday, he brands the couple’s change of heart “cynical”.