Foster mother 'forced girl to kneel in scalding water'


A girl who soiled herself was made to kneel in scalding water by her foster mother, a family court judge has concluded.

The youngster, now 12, had also been seen picking up faeces in the garden of her Lancashire home, Judge Sarah Singleton said.

She also told how she had been bitten by her foster parents' Rottweiler dogs.

Judge Singleton said the youngster had been left physically scarred and "deeply traumatised".

The judge said the girl's foster mother and father - a lorry driver - were responsible for "emotional abuse and neglect".

Neighbours and school staff had been concerned, police and social workers had been involved and opportunities to protect had been missed, said the judge.

She said she was concerned about the "quality and superficiality" of an assessment carried out by social services staff at Lancashire County Council.

The judge said the girl had lived with the couple for about a decade and was now in the care of Lancashire council.

Detail has emerged in a ruling by the judge following a private hearing at a Blackpool family court.

The judge said she had been asked to make decisions about who had caused harm to help social workers plan for the youngster's future.

She said the girl could not be identified.

The foster parents were not named - and the ruling gave no indication as to whether they had been charged with criminal offences.

Judge Singleton said the youngster had been born in Luton, Bedfordshire, and had also lived in Yorkshire. The foster parents had lived near Scarborough before moving to a new home near Blackpool.

She said the youngster's mother was a black Zimbabwean asylum-seeker.

The woman had placed her daughter with the couple, who were British and white, under an "informal fostering arrangement".

A residence order had been made at a county court in York 10 years ago, said the judge.

Judge Singleton said the girl had been treated with "cold contempt" by her foster parents, who kept animals including three Rottweilers, at least one cat and a "large" pig.

The judge said evidence showed that the animals were "well cared for".

She said the foster mother had demonstrated more warmth for the animals than the girl when giving evidence at the court hearing.

Judge Singleton said the couple's approach to the girl's soiling problem had been "very cruel".

The girl had told how she had been "shut outside".

Her scalding injuries were probably linked to "somebody's disgust and vituperation over the soiling accidents" and connected to an "abusive method" of "forcing her to clean herself up", said the judge.

She said it was "very hard to contemplate" that the girl had been deliberately scalded.

The foster mother had also repeated the "highly-offensive 'N' word" with "alarming facility" when giving evidence, said the judge.

And the foster father had described the little girl as "strange and disturbed" - adding: "Maybe it was because she was African."

The couple had dealt with her racial identity "insensitively", said the judge.

Judge Singleton outlined concerns raised at schools - including concerns that the girl was not getting enough to eat - and the involvement of police and social workers over a number of years.

She said the girl had been taken from the foster couple and into council care about two years ago after making complaints about her foster mother's "cruelty and abuse" during sessions with a counsellor organised through a school.

The judge gave detail of instances of where she thought that opportunities to protect the child had been missed.

She outlined a concern about the quality of an assessment carried out by Lancashire County Council Social Services five years ago. She said she was sure that her concerns would be "looked into".