It’s a case which is bound to cause a furore amongst the general public, but a judge has just ruled that a mother whose throat was slit by her partner must now write to him whilst he is in prison, to update him on their children.
The mother, who had been contemplating leaving the father due to his excessive drinking, had been having an affair. It was the discovery of this affair that spurred the father on to attack the mother. The attack lasted for seven hours and resulted in the father breaking several bones in the mother’s face, as well as a full slit to her throat. The mother is lucky to be alive – she had to call 999 herself after the father refused to call for help. She was subsequently found in bed with her two, two-year old twin boys, who were covered in her blood. The children saw their father beat their mother with dumbbells, slash her throat with a knife and attempt to suffocate her with a pillow.
Despite the severity of the attack, the father was sentenced to only nine years in prison, for malicious wounding and intent to cause grievous bodily harm. How he escaped an attempted murder charge is startling.
Yet even more startling is the latest judgment in this case, which now requires the mother to write to the father, who has since applied for a contact and residence order in relation to their now five year old boys. The mother, it should be noted, was self represented, whilst the father had legal aid and the best counsel tax payers’ money could buy once again raising troubling issues about the uneven playing field in family cases in Britain today.
The legal principles in this case are what many will be championing, or questioning, depending upon which side of the fence you sit on. Under the law, both in our home grown legislation and within European Human Rights laws, parents are entitled to have a relationship with their children and children too are entitled to have a relationship with their parents in the first instance, and subject to that relationship benefitting the welfare of any children involved. That right to family life serves to protect children, but it can also, when misapplied, cause them harm.
The judge may well have felt that despite the father’s actions towards the mother, his right to a relationship with his children, and theirs with him, must come before the mother’s own relationship with the father, however strained it may be. This is the current thinking in law, and as such the judge has not deviated from what some might consider the norm, or even, the correct application of the law. Except that it isn’t, and here’s why.
The Children Act 1989, which is where applications for contact and residence orders are solidified, has a preamble. It asks that any judge applying principles in family matters place child welfare above everything else. That a child’s wellbeing is the paramount consideration in every case. This presumption is sometimes called the Paramountcy Principle.
The family courts still apply this principle incorrectly in cases like these. The view that a parent who hurts another parent is automatically entitled to contact with their children because they are not considered a danger to their children is fundamentally flawed. Any child witnessing domestic violence in the home is, as research tells us and any parent knows, going to be negatively affected by that experience, often very deeply affected – even if it is a one-off incident or the first incident they witness. That first incident can be, and often is, the most shocking to the nervous system of all.
The children in this case are now five. There is no evidence from the reporting of the case that the children were consulted on the letter writing aspects of the case, or indeed the thought of contact with their father when he leaves prison. Laws currently in place, as well as policy make it clear that the voice of the child should be heard in such cases. There is also no information on whether the children were assessed after the attack and given support. We would not be surprised if this kind of procedure didn’t even take place, given the poor state of the system.
Another overlooked aspect of cases like these is how a physical attack on one parent translates into parenting competence in general. The father had been drinking excessively for an extended period of time. That behaviour was concern enough for the mother to choose to leave the father, which she was about to do prior to the attack, and which may have shown to her credit, a desire to protect her children from a controlling and perhaps troubled human being. We are told that the father was also a part time soldier in the Territorial Army. The implication here is that the father, as a soldier, would have been trained to control his, we can assume, superior combat skills. In short, he had a duty to show physical restraint. The very obvious lack of restraint, from binge drinking to a very violent outburst needs to be examined. And we have no evidence from the reporting of this case that it has been, or that the father is now fit and mentally well. All of this is cause for concern when considering the welfare of children in family cases.
But perhaps the most worrying failure of all is the court’s failure to understand that any parent capable of attempting to deprive their children of the other through physical violence is not a competent parent themselves. It is a fundamentally selfish act which seeks to remove a parental element, in this case the primary carer, from a child’s life. It is this principle which the courts pay little mind to in the ruminating of facts and family policy in the day to day process of family hearings, but a principle, ironically, which is applied in relation to other forms of non violent parental alienation.
There just isn’t enough information on this case to be able to understand how the judge came to his conclusion, but one thing is certain: forcing the mother to write to the father is an outright disgrace, both for the lack of sensitivity to the mother and the trauma it may cause the children too.
Mike Howard said:
Whatever happened to Common Sense in our Law Courts?
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There is no common sense in family law.
I have experienced similar. I was shocked then learned why and where it all came from.
Its all about patriarchal rules – which stem from the Roman church.
Judges still attend the annual RC Red Mass after all.
Many of the rules are from the days of the Inquisition.
Women and children are deemed second class, less evolved than men and mothers are supposedly feeble minded and unable to make decisions re their children.
So many abused women are in this same situation all over world. The pattern is identical if one studies it.
The patriarchal owner of the children has all the rights.
Phyllis Chesler has written well in her research
“For more than five thousand years, men—fathers—were legally *entitled* to sole custody of their children. Women—mothers—were *obliged* to bear, rear, and economically support their children. No mother was ever legally entitled to custody of her own child.”
Angry Grandparent II said:
What a crazy system!
When my youngest was three or four she kept reporting “accidents” whilst on contact and also started to exhibit unusual behaviour, becoming despondent, morose, withdrawn, so I said to the courts that we would withhold contact until someone can find out what was going on as the accidents alone which were bizarre needed looking at.
Social services disagreed and pushed me to the point of a contempt of court and being put in prison if I failed to give contact and despite my daughter saying to guardian and social worker she didn’t want to see her mother anymore, this didn’t matter a thing. So contact carried on until we managed to move out of the area and once away from her, the real story came out, the wicked beatings, the bizarre sexual abuses and because social services were in the frame, they did their level best to destroy any criminal investigation and so they aided a child abuser to protect themselves.
My ex wife is a paranoid schizophrenic, something I brought up in the very first hearing, it took fourteen years for social services to accept that this was the case.
I was asking the same question for 20 years and then came upon an article which joined all the dots for me.
Its the old poor Adam story . Poor Adam was all upset because Eve ill Eve was having an affair- despite them being separated . His possessive male nature led him to try and murder her. No mistake on that as you do not slit someones throat unless you mean to finish them off.
All he has to do is ask and he will receive what he wants.
Next he will go for custody on release and some solicitor will actually take the case.
I have worked with a mother who was in this same situation – she was left for dead in the arms of her 2 year old .The social workers sought him out and wanted him to go for custody. How insane is that. The child remembered him of course and wanted no contact, but it was forced for a while, resulting in the child being severely traumatised.
It was all about HIS rights.
I am sharing the article with you Natasha here.
“Court licensed abuse” is fundamentally about power. The epidemic of Family Court judges granting custody to, i.e. licensing, violent or sexually abusive fathers, while severely punishing “protective mothers” with loss of custody, visitation, jail, sanctions, etc., is principally about power—the power that the Power Elite confers upon fathers through judges. Any activism not focused on correcting this disparity of power cannot ultimately result in any significant numbers of children protected, as it is overwhelmingly mothers who are powerless to protect them”
This one line jumped off the page.
“It explains why judges threaten mothers and children they will never see each other again if they don’t allow the abuse to continue, and why mothers are jailed
when they won’t get with the program.!!!!!!”
“We don’t need more studies, investigations, education or proof of this discrimination against women and children. There is plenty already. What is needed now is to stage a civil rights battle: all women, along with all good, enlightened men, need to unite in outrage over this oppression of women and children and demand that finally, for the first time in history, women gain the Power to Protect.”
Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..
Ludicrous decision. Shame on this Judge for not using common sense! No sane person would expect this lady to write about their children to her ex in prison after he tortured her and inflicted such terrible wounds! How on earth can he justify his decision? In the child’s best interests it would be better to forget and move on.
There are many people who should be getting contact with their children but do not. It just goes to show how the family courts are not fit for purpose! The family court needs to be disbanded.
Forced Adoption said:
Does anyone question whether the court has the legal POWER to force anyone to write 3 letters per year to anyone else let alone someone who brutally attacked and half killed the writer ? Can she write “I hope you rot in hell you bastard” or something similar and has the judge any power to compose something more “suitable” and tell her to write that? I can’t help feeling that this warrants a lot more publicity as nobody asks that question.
Hi FA, yes, the courts do have the power to compel a parent to inform the other in this way. It makes up part of family policy and the wider powers the courts have in granting certain types of orders. What is concerning here is the lack of concern for the children and the mother in all of this. Whilst it is indirect contact, that kind of contact can still be very traumatic for children and indeed is often a precursor to direct contact. A warm up, if you will. It would be interesting to know whether the judge also allowed the father to write and to compel the mother to share that correspondence with the children.
One could argue that the mother has been subjected to degrading treatment for having to correspond with the man who tried to kill her, for example. And that the children’s right to protection under the UN convention has also been breached. There are lots of ways of looking at this, I think.
Can we get some balance here, please ? A third of all DV victims are men, but women are more likely to use deadly force (knife, gun, poison etc) than men (then they become homicide cases). There will always be the odd anecdotal case and what has been described here could just as well fit a violent mother demanding news of her children while she sits in jail (we would not think of that as extraordinarily, would we ?) – except that we don’t jail women for the same offences men commit. Now hang your hat on that.
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