Boy who died after mother fractured his skull had recently returned from foster care

A toddler who died after his mother fractured his skull had left council foster care and returned home a few months earlier, a family court judge has said.

Judge Edward Hess said the boy and his sister had been placed with foster carers in late 2017 after doctors noted injuries to his face and council social workers became concerned.

In early 2018 social services staff decided to withdraw care proceedings and another judge approved the children’s return home.

The boy died in June 2018 after suffering a skull fracture.

Detail of the case emerged in a written ruling by Judge Hess after a private family court hearing in Swindon.

Judge Hess has not revealed the ages of the boy or his sister.

The judge said the boy had not reached the age of two when he died and the girl was not yet four.

Council social services bosses with responsibility for the girl’s welfare asked the judge to make findings about the cause of the boy’s death.

The judge concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that the boy suffered a skull fracture caused by an “impact injury” to his head – and said his mother was the “perpetrator”.

Around the time of the boy’s death, the mother had also been responsible for bruising to his head, shoulder and neck and a tear to his tongue, the judge decided.

Judge Hess said neither the boy nor his sister can be identified in media reports of the case.

The judge has not named the council involved.

He said police had been involved but have not said whether anyone has been prosecuted.

Judge Hess said the boy was examined during a routine visit to a clinic in late 2017.

He had eye and mouth injuries which doctors suspected were “non-accidental”.

Social services staff started family court proceedings and the boy and his sister were placed in foster care.

After further investigations, council staff withdrew proceedings in early 2018 and another judge approved the children’s return home, said Judge Hess.

He said the boy had “very sadly died” after suffering a skull fracture in June 2018.

“The skull fracture was caused by an event which took place in the period in mid-June 2018,” said Judge Hess.

“That event must have involved a very significant impact force on (his) skull.

“Having reflected carefully on this I have little hesitation in concluding that the perpetrator is, on the balance of probabilities, the mother.”

He said he had concluded that the boy’s father was not to blame.

The judge said the boy’s sister had moved to live with relatives after her brother died, and she should stay where she is.

Judge Hess said the children’s parents were in their 30s.

He said he got the impression the woman had a “very poor” relationship with her son.

One relative had told him the mother loved her daughter but had “always hated” the boy.

He said that when one of the woman’s pets had died, a relative heard her say: “I would rather have my pet back than him.”

Judge Hess said the woman denied saying it, but he believed the relative.

He said evidence showed the woman “was entirely comfortable” with leaving the boy unattended.

“The mother has herself spoken of her difficulty in bonding with (him),” said the judge in his ruling.

“Although the mother told me this problem was over by the time of (his) death, I am not satisfied that it was.

“I have a clear impression that the relationship between the mother and (her son) was very poor.”

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