Health Service Executive -v- LL & ors (Full Care Order - NAI)

JudgeHorgan P.
Judgment Date11 October 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] IEDC 6
Case OutcomeApproved
Date11 October 2011
CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
[2011] IEDC 6
11 October 2011
1. This matter c ame before the Court as t wo separate sets of proceedings. T he first set of proceedings related to Mot her and Fat her
1 (the sec ond named respondent) and was in respec t of t heir child, Child 1. There was no appearanc e by or on behalf of Father 1 at
the st art of t he case although he had participated in the proceedings at an earlier stage of t he proceedings. However, Fat her 1 was
present in Court when hearing dates w ere allocated f or the c ase but c hose not to participat e in the full care hea ring having furnished
his wishes for Child 1 to the s ocial workers. Pursuant to t he HSE’s uncontest ed application, these proceedings were c onsolidated in
the interest s of eff iciency and judicial ec onomy.
2. The HSE applied for Care Orders in respect of Child 1, Child 2, and Child 3 under section 18 of the Child Care Act, 1991.
3. The f irst named respondent is the mother and sole legal guardian of t he three c hildren. She was represented in these proc eedings
by solicitor and c ounsel. Father 2 (t he third named respondent) is t he fat her of Child 2 (born January 2009) and Child 3 (born
December 2009). He is not a legal guardian of t he children but plays an ac tive part in t heir lives. He was represented in these
proceedings by solicitor and c ounsel. The individual interests of the three c hildren were represented by the Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”)
who was also represente d by solicitor and c ounsel.
Reason for Coming into Care
4. All medical experts agree, and Mother and Fat her 2 now acc ept, that Child 3 (aged four months) suffered:
1. a frac tured skull (a right parietal frac ture);
2. a right frontal subdural haemorrhage (bleeding of blood vessels in the subdural space between t he surfac e of the
brain and the dura which separates the brain from the skull); and
3. bilateral new and old retinal haemorrhages (bleeding in the blood vessels on t he inside surface of t he bac k of the
5. Child 3 and his siblings Child 1 and Child 2 were all taken into c are following an Emergency Care Order on 9 April 2010 and have
remained in the c are of the HSE pursuant t o Interim Care Orders granted on the 16 April 2010 and extended on 15 occ asions until the
conc lusion of this hearing. Child 1 and Child 2 were originally placed in short t erm care with an approved single fost er carer. They had
two ot her short time placements. Child 3 was separately plac ed. All three boys were then place d together in t he supervised care of
their mother for the purposes of a parent ing assessment in a cent re in County 1. This asses sment extended to nine months. The
Court heard two applicat ions pursuant to s ection 47 of the 1991 Act in July 2010 arising from the HSE’s decision to remove the
children from their locat ion in the institution and the supervised care of t heir mother following the c onclusion of her parenting
assessment in that institution. Those applications were unsucc essful and the children were moved from the c entre to the c are of an
approved foster c arer in County 2. Mot her, Father 1, and F ather 2 all reside in County 1.
6. On her own acc ount, Mother (aged 22 at the time) was always the primary carer of her three sons. Fat her 2 (then aged 25) has
conc eded that he was less involved in their day- to-day care and might have been a more supportive fat her/partner. He lived with
Mother from time to time and was a permanent feature in the lives of the boys. It is suggested that t his was largely because Mother
was c laiming a single parent social welfare payment which would have been unavailable to her if she was cohabiting with Fat her 2.
Mother and Fat her 2 are no longer residing toget her as a c ouple although they travel t ogether for the purposes of one of t he access
visits to t he children in County 2.
7. Contradictory a cco unts were given by Mot her of event s leading up to Child 3’s admission to hospital on 6 April 2010. Mother
originally gave a det ailed acco unt of event s to the hospital which s he subsequently admitted was c ompletely fabricated. The original
acc ount was that she was present w hen an acc ident oc curred and her five-ye ar-old niece dropped Child 3. She stat ed to t he soc ial
workers that Fat her 2 was not present and she denied t hat he w as living with her most of the t ime.
8. She then provided a different sequence o f events which conc eded that she was not in the apart ment at all at t he time when Child
3 allegedly sustained the head injury. This sec ond account c onceded that all t hree children were being cared for by an elderly family
friend who helped her out occ asionally in caring for her young family. Mother’s niece (who was 5 years old at t he time) was also in the
apartment and under the ca re and supervision of the family friend.
9. Both versions of Mot her’s account implicated her niec e, suggesting that she had dropped Child 3. The hospital discount ed the
possibility t hat t he injuries could be caused by a five-y ear-old child dropping a four-month-old baby at an e arly stage.
10. I will not dwell on each and ev ery inconsistenc y which emerged in the course of the evidenc e of Mot her, the family friend, the
children’s grandmother, and the c hildren’s grandfather in relation the sec ond version of events on 6 April, but it is f air to say t hat t he
detail of Mot her’s second ac count of events has not been ent irely supported by the evidenc e of either grandparent or indeed by t he
family friend.
11. At t he end of the evidence heard over se ven days, it is fair to say t hat t he HSE were aware of details hitherto undisclosed t o

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