Manisha was instructed in this complex and challenging case, which began during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and also involved ongoing criminal proceedings. Manisha was tasked with pulling together voluminous and complex disclosure from the police, adult social care and various medical agencies in order to prepare a detailed and intricate schedule of allegations. This matter was complicated by the fact the subject child had not suffered any physical abuse or neglect themselves and charges had not been brought in respect of all the vulnerable adults in the family home. The criminal proceedings were further delayed during the course of the pandemic.

The lengthy proceedings involved careful consideration at various intervals as to whether or not the family proceedings should proceed first in time with a finding of fact hearing; owing to the already substantial delay caused by the pandemic and an adjourned criminal trial. The case involved numerous experts within the criminal proceedings including doctors, dieticians and meteorologists who may have been utilised by the family court ahead of the criminal trial. Multiple combined hearings took place over the course of these proceedings, which also involved Leading and Junior Counsel from the criminal proceedings. It was ultimately determined that notwithstanding the delay, the criminal proceedings should proceed first in time.

The parents were subsequently convicted of offences against one vulnerable adult. The Family Court were invited by the Local Authority to further determine additional allegations in respect of a second vulnerable adult; who had been utilised by the parents to assist in the imprisonment of the first vulnerable adult. The family court were also invited to consider the emotional harm and future risk of neglect, physical and emotional harm which faced the subject child of the proceedings. It remained the position of the Local Authority throughout, as supported by the Children’s Guardian, that such findings were both necessary and proportionate when considering the importance of the child’s narrative. Notwithstanding their criminal convictions, the parents continued to dispute the majority of the serious allegations advanced in the family proceedings. All of the detailed findings sought by the Local Authority were however subsequently found proven by the court in full.