In a rare case, the family court agreed to remove a father’s parental responsibility and allow the child to change their surname and terminate any contact, following the father’s convictions for sexual abuse of his daughter, and receiving a caution for harassing the mother.
The latest hearings for the case took place on 19 April, 2021 and the judgment was handed down by Mr Justice MacDonald.
There is a very good summary of the case on Lexis Nexis, by Monifa Walters-Thompson, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, an extract of which we’re adding below:
“In D v E the father had been cautioned for harassment against the mother and convicted for sexual offences against a child. The child he had abused sought help, and he had made threats against her when he found out she had reported the crimes.
Around that same time period he punched and used a car to harm another female victim. At the time of the hearing in these proceedings, the father still denied the offences and made excuses for his sexual offending. Further, he breached his sexual harm prevention orders on two occasions, on one occasion allowing a child under 16 to be present at his home address. In 2019 the father sent threats to a female victim and advertised on Facebook seeking someone to harm to an ex-partner. He was unable to articulate why this was wrong.
The probation service noted that he was a risk to children and intimate partners, in particular children from 13 to 15 years of age. The specific risk was sexual grooming, dependent on the extent to which the father could exercise power over the child. In relation to partners, the primary risk was at the end of the relationship, giving rise to potential for serious harm. This father had not provided any evidence to suggest he had engaged in therapeutic or other work to reduce the risks.
The court also considered that the child had no relationship or recollection of her father, due to the mother terminating contact in 2015 on the advice of the local authority when the father was arrested for sexual offences. The child had never used the father’s surname and it was unknown to her, despite it being on her birth certificate. The father’s inaction was also a significant factor in the face of the application. Despite saying he opposed the applications, he did not file evidence or make any applications of his own.
When taking these matters together, it is not hard to see why the court made the draconian orders it did. It would be difficult to see how it would be in this child’s best interests to begin a relationship with her father in these circumstances. In a less ‘one-sided’ case, these applications would be much more of a struggle.”
You can follow Monifa on Twitter at @MWTFamilyLaw.
You can read the judgment in full here.