Fatimah Miah is a mother recently acquitted of the charge of manslaughter in relation to her baby son who died in May 2007. The Telegraph reports here that she is to make an application to the High Court for the return of the baby’s three siblings who are now in care.
Of course the mere fact of her acquittal is in itself not enough to secure the return of the children. The family court within care proceedings will have heard evidence, including medical evidence, and most likely made a finding of fact that she was more likely than not the perpetrator of the non-accidental injuries to the child. In order to secure a return of her children she will have to go further than persuading the court that the evidence is insufficient to be satisfied of her actions to the criminal standard – she will need to persuade the court that the new evidence she seeks to rely upon is such that the balance of probabilities now falls in her favour. It is quite possible that whilst evidence is insufficient to secure a conviction in criminal the same evidence can be sufficient to satisfy the lower standard of proof in civil and family proceedings. And before the court will re-open the findings made in the family case it will need to be persuaded that there really is important new evidence that may well undermine the findings.
It is impossible to tell from the reported material whether any of this is likely to happen, but one thing is for certain – seeking the return of children in these circumstances is a road fraught with potential difficulties even if one is armed with an acquittal. And even more so if the children have already been adopted.