Simon Miller and Alex Perry in Re Z (Infant Fatality) [2024] EWHC 618 (Fam)

8th Apr 2024 | Cases

In Re Z (Infant Fatality) [2024] EWHC 618 (Fam) Simon Miller, leading Alex Perry, was instructed by Jackson West for the mother in this fact-finding hearing in care proceedings issued following death of a child. 

Following the death of three year old A while in the care of D, his stepfather, the local authority applied for public law orders in respect of Z who was A’s maternal half sibling born in June 2023. The application was made against a background of concerns around neglect of A and his older siblings, B and C. The local authority’s position was that; A’s death was due to lack of adequate supervision or worse when left alone with D, there was a history of D being cruel and abusive towards A, B, and C, the mother had failed to protect A, B and C, D and the mother had not worked openly with professionals, and that, being Chinese nationals, D and the mother intended to flee the jurisdiction before Z was born.

The medical cause of death was positional asphyxiation consequent on A’s entrapment in a bedside cabinet.

D accepted that A died whilst in his care but denied any intentional action that may have contributed to this, but did admit that, on one occasion, he put B and C in a ‘stress position’ and he covered A’s mouth to stop him crying. 

The mother denied being uncooperative with professionals or intending to flee the jurisdiction. She accepted that D may have inappropriately chastised the oldest children but asserted that she put a stop to this and denied failing to protect any of the children.  

The court found D’s evidence concerning events surrounding A’s death to lack credibility and the mother to be highly evasive whilst testifying.

The court found that; A died as a result of the gross neglect of D who was not supervising A properly or at all, the mother failed to protect the children from D’s abusive behaviour, D and the mother failed to work with the local authority and other professionals in an open and honest way, they had intended to flee the jurisdiction after A’s death. 

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