Ian Peddie QC and Chris McWatters secure High Court Victory for Father in "Baby Shaking" case

Friday 20 April 2012

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Ian Peddie QC and Chris McWatters won a landmark victory in the Family Division of the High Court yesterday, representing a father accused of causing the death of his baby son by shaking. Both parents were acquitted of any wrong doing.

London Borough of Islington v Al Alas and Wray [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam)

The London Borough of Islington had alleged that the death of the four and a half month old boy had been caused by "baby shaking". This was despite the parents both being acquitted of murder in the associated criminal trial in November 2011, where they were represented by Michael Turner QC and Anya Lewis.

With the assistance of medical experts, Ian and Chris showed that the cause of the baby's death has actually been vitamin D deficiency, rickets, which led to infection, subdural haemorrhage (SDH), retinal haemorrhage and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy. The baby, suffering from undiagnosed congenital rickets, therefore was prone to fractures and infections. Despite the rickets having been missed by the Great Ormand Street consultant radiologist, it was immediately identified by the pathologist Dr Irene Scheimberg.

Despite the acquittal in the criminal trial at the direction of the judge, the local authority had not accepted the verdict, and insisted on bringing care proceedings through the family courts. Because these were ongoing at the time, the father had been prevented from being present at the birth, and the mother had been allowed virtually no contact. The family have now been reunited and their daughter, who has returned home.

Click here to read the full judgment.

Ian Peddie QC

Chris McWatters

Ian Peddie QC (top) and Chris McWatters (above)

The case has been widely reported, including by the BBC, on the Today programme.

Ian Peddie QC and Chris McWatters are both members of the Garden Court Family Team.

Ian Peddie will be speaking at the Garden Court seminar Experts in Children Act Cases: When to use and how to cross-examine on 17 May 2012.

For media enquiries, please contact Ben Walker on 020 7993 7671 or email benw@gclaw.co.uk.

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