Sunday, October 14, 2012

Family torn apart by false cruelty allegations

Opinionated medical evidence again

A mother whose family was ripped apart after her partner was wrongly jailed for child cruelty has won a five-year legal battle to get her children back.

Jennie Gray’s children were taken away following accusations that her two-month-old daughter Ellie had suffered ‘shaken baby’ injuries at the hands of her boyfriend Ben Butler, the children’s father.

Butler, 32, was jailed over the allegations and forced to share a prison cell with a convicted child abuser.

His conviction was quashed after fresh medical evidence suggested Ellie’s head injury was caused at birth, and he was freed in 2010 after serving four months of his 18-month sentence.

But it took another two years for the parents to persuade judges and social workers that Ellie and sister Isabella should be returned to their 32-year-old mother, an artist.

High Court judge Mrs Justice Hogg praised the parents as she ruled the two girls should be allowed to go home to their mother.

She said: ‘The last five and a half years must have been an extraordinarily difficult time for the parents . . . [They] have weathered the storm. They have each been resilient and determined, and shown tenacity and courage.

‘I hope now that the record is put straight, that with their tenacity they will be able to put behind them those difficulties and look forward to a more positive future. I wish the parents well: they too deserve joy and happiness.’

The family’s ordeal began in 2007 when Mr Butler, a removal man, noticed Ellie had gone limp and was gasping for air.

The new father called an ambulance and the baby was taken to hospital and diagnosed with bleeding on the brain, bleeding in the eye and swelling of brain tissue –injuries typical of a ‘shaken baby’ who has been deliberately injured.

Mr Butler, from Sutton, Surrey, insisted he had not hurt his daughter and Miss Gray supported him. But the couple, who were not living together, were arrested and Mr Butler was charged with grievous bodily harm and cruelty, and subsequently convicted and jailed.

He described the ordeal as ‘horrendous’. He said: ‘I was put with sex offenders. I never spoke to the guy I shared a cell with – it’s like being put in a mental hospital when you’re not mental. It was just a horrible, dirty feeling where everyone is on a different wavelength.’

Ellie made a full recovery but social services took her and sister Isabella away from Miss Gray.

Ellie was allowed to live with her grandparents, Miss Gray’s parents, but Isabella was put into foster care and social workers said she should be adopted. Mr Butler’s conviction was quashed as ‘unsafe’ in 2010, but he and Miss Gray faced a court battle for their daughters.

Mr Butler was allowed to see Ellie only twice a year, for two hours at a time, at a social services contact centre, and Miss Gray was allowed to see her only six times a year.

Miss Gray said: ‘I was told at one point that if I went against Ben it would be to my advantage and I’d have more chance of getting my daughter back. It’s outrageous.’

Mrs Justice Hogg said Ellie, five, and three-year-old Isabella, should be returned to their mother. She added: ‘It is seldom that I see a “happy end”. It is a joy to oversee the return of a child to her parents.’

Original report here

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1 comment:

Amazed said...

It never has failed to amaze me that "social workers" have thought, and continue to think, that they can remove children from families with impunity. I can still not fathom a society in which the males have been so emasculated that "social workers" can steal a man's children for no good reason (I'm talking about without reason, not from an abuser) and blithely and correctly assume they will not be personally touched.