Non accidental injury in children and shaken baby syndrome cases are often the most difficult, controversial and emotive. Our team of specialist lawyers have the highest level of expertise in this particular complex area and are members of the specialist Law Society Children Panel. We work alongside other experts in this field and have successfully defended numerous cases of the utmost gravity including allegations of child murder, infanticide, sexual abuse and all ranges of non-accidental injury and shaken baby syndrome.
We have testimonials from numerous parents who have been involved in these horrific proceedings, including the following:-
- Lancashire CC –v- W (October 2013) - we acted for the father in these care proceedings where it was alleged that he had deliberately injured his baby daughter. The parents contacted emergency services following which the baby was admitted to hospital and found to have subdural bleeding and intra-retinal haemorrhages (bleeding to the brain and eyes). The father had provided an account as to how the child had been injured, describing an accident at home where she fell from his arms. The Local Authority did not accept his account and alleged that he had caused a non-accidental injury (NAI) and that the injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The matter therefore proceeded to an 8 day fact finding hearing at the High Court. We successfully contested the Local Authority’s case, challenging the evidence of the treating doctors and independent experts. No findings were made against our client and his account was accepted by the Court. His daughter returned home to her parents’ care and the police confirmed that they would not be taking any action against him.
- Manchester CC v S (September 2013) – in this case we successfully defended a mother who had been co-accused (with her partner) of baby-shaking her infant son. The concerned parents took their son to their GP when they noticed he was unwell. The GP referred the baby to the hospital and during examination the paediatricians discovered brain and eye bleeding that they reported as non-accidental (the parents had no explanation for the injuries). At this point, the Local Authority is obliged to investigate the matter and the Police and Social Services were involved. The Local Authority had three medical experts stating it was non-accidental injury, most probably shaken baby syndrome, causing subdural haematoma (brain bleeds) and retinal haemorrhaging. The baby was taken into care: Edward Hayes helped arrange for the maternal grandmother to become carer with unlimited supervised full-contact by the parents. Against the weight of medical evidence and expert opinion, following a seven month legal battle, Edward Hayes and its experienced legal team secured a full acquittal, re-united the family and the criminal charges were dropped.
- York v B - we won this case substantially due to our being able to demonstrate that the physics of our client's explanation matched those seen in a shaking (accel / decell forces), those required for posterior rib fractures (leverage of the ribs against the spine). Most importantly, we demonstrated that torsional forces (flailing) could cause the 3 lower leg metaphyseal fractures. The Consultant Paediatrician instructed in the case had reported that a pull/push or twist were the cause of the limb fractures, however we were able to discredit this expert. In particular, one of the reasons we won the case was the knowledge of the work of Kleinman re: metaphyseal fractures being caused by flailing/torsional forces. The expert himself was unaware of this research. This case, in particular, emphasised the need for specialist representation in baby shaking / non-accidental injury cases. This case could not have been won without knowledge of Kleinman's research, when the instructed expert himself had not heard of his research work. The Legal Aid Agency seem not to have taken on board the importance of specialist lawyers in these highly complex cases. The position was underlined in our last case by Baker J in the High Court, which was reported and our services once again praised. Unfortunately, the Legal Aid Agency seem to take the view that these cases can be dealt with by routine non-specialists at a cheap price. Therefore, it is all the more important to instruct us as soon as possible where there are finding of fact proceedings, as if this goes wrong the consequences are horrendous.
- Edward Hayes recently represented a mother who had been accused of shaking her baby. The Local Authority issued are proceedings in Blackburn. We obtained our own expert evidence in relation to the injuries and proved that the child had not been shaken by the parents, but in fact had suffered an infection which had led to the child's brain swelling and causing brain injury. The Local Authority expert was discredited. The police investigation collapsed and the family were reunited. The child is back with her parents. Edward Hayes are the leading expert lawyers in these so called "shaking" cases.
- Edward Hayes represented a mother in the Brighton Family Court who had her children removed because of drug use. The Local Authority issued care proceedings, but with our clear advice and support, the mother cured her addiction and her children were returned to her care.
- Ian and Angela Gay - successful appeal of convicted couple who had been accused of salt poisoning their adopted.
- London Borough of Sutton v Gray & Butler - a lengthy and complex care proceedings matter where both children were returned to the parents. The Judge took the very unusual step of allowing the Judgement to be made public in its entirety.
- A mother accused of murdering her child by shaking – we defended the mother in a criminal trial in which she was acquitted and subsequently successfully proved linked care proceedings to be flawed enabling her to be reunited with her 3 other children who had been removed and placed in care.
- Successfully defending an international businessman who was accused of sexually abusing his daughter. As a result of this he was placed in Wormwood Scrubs for 65 days prior to our instruction. We immediately reviewed the expert evidence in the case and instructed our own leading specialist. We were able to show that bruising around the private parts was in fact misdiagnosed skin pigmentation and that no abuse had in fact occurred. A disgruntled nanny had falsified the allegations which had then been misdiagnosed by 3 lawyers and an overzealous police officer. The family who were international, had been divided, but thanks to us the criminal case was dropped, defence costs were awarded and thereafter the care proceedings were withdrawn, notably the police and medics refused to apologised which was utterly shameful. The family are reunited and now have rebuilt their lives in Italy.
- Shaken baby syndrome – a mother of twins was alleged to have caused a subdural haematoma, again we were able to show that any injuries that occurred were accidental and that misdiagnosis had occurred. The proceedings were withdrawn and the family reunited.
- A child minder accused of causing serious non accidental injuries including head injuries and 2 broken arms – our client was joined as an intervener within the care proceedings after a 10 fact finding hearing our client was fully exonerated.
- Damages for Human Rights breach. The Family Law Team successfully represented a Mother in obtaining damages for breach of human rights where the Local Authority delayed issuing care proceedings. We were also successful in obtaining a costs order against the Local Authority. Read more here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/OJ/2016/B44.html
We are receiving an increasing number of approaches in relation to appeals to the Court of Appeal following finding of fact hearings that have gone wrong - this is a direct result of the pennywise pound foolish approach by the Legal Aid Agency. This is leading to avoidable costs of appeal and consequent re-hearings of findings of fact at best or at worse, horrendous miscarriages of justices and destroyed families. A fixed fee regime in criminal and family cases does not encourage specialist representation, but instead a conveyer belt approach with low grade, under qualified representation. We encourage people to pay privately where they can afford to and always instruct the very best lawyers you can possibly obtain. You should also always carefully research the experience of your lawyer as it is you and your family's life that is at stake.
If you are unfortunate enough to become involved in a case we act in cases across the country, we are based in Central London and regularly appear in courts across the UK. For example one of the cases above took place in Truro Crown Court and another in Norwich.
For more advice, download our Non-Accidental Injury/Shaken Baby Syndrome white paper here