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News | Wed 4th May, 2016
Emily Verity has successfully established that serious allegations of physical and sexual abuse made against a father in a local authority care case were entirely fabricated by the mother.
Following medical complications arising from his mother’s pregnancy, A, a boy, was born at 26 weeks gestation on 2nd August 2013. Mother was Bosnian, Father was Nigerian Muslim. A’s parents had commenced a relationship in 2012 but had separated prior to A’s birth. A’s mother accepted that she was unable to care for A and consented to him being placed in foster care after he was discharged from hospital.
The Local Authority commenced care proceedings due to concerns about the mother’s ability to care for her son. During the course of these proceedings, it was the mother’s position that her relationship with the father had been punctuated by domestic violence. She alleged that the father had been controlling, had frequently placed his hands around her throat during arguments and had forced her to have sex with him. In addition, she claimed that when she informed him of her pregnancy, he had knocked her to the floor and kicked her in the stomach in an attempt to induce a miscarriage.
The father denied all of these allegations and sought findings that they had been fabricated by the mother. HHJ Atkinson found the mother’s evidence to be “wholly unconvincing and utterly unreliable. It was riddled with inconsistencies and filled with sweeping but serious allegations supported with little or no detail, it was at times simply incapable of belief and it was unsupported and indeed undermined by the evidence of third parties.” In contrast, she found the father to be “an honest young man” and she accepted his account of events wherever it conflicted with the mother’s. It was held that the mother’s allegations had been fabricated and accordingly, A was placed in the care of his father under a child arrangements order.
Cases concerning allegations of domestic violence must be treated with sensitivity. It is not uncommon for incidents to be reported many months or even years later and for victims to struggle to recount the details of the abuse they have suffered. On the other hand where false allegations are levelled maliciously against someone it is stressful for them and can be hard to refute. Further, before the fact finding takes place the alleged perpetrator may be treated as a risk, and may feel that some mud however unfairly has stuck. Where contemporaneous or independent evidence simply does not support the allegations and the evidence of the purported victim is inconsistent and unreliable, it is right that findings of fabrication should be sought, and as early in proceedings as is possible.