A YORK father and mother have cleared their name after more than a year on bail accused of ill-treating their son.
York Crown Court heard the case was based on bruises on their three-year-old boy’s body and that there were no allegations that they had been bad parents, or had ill treated the child or had caused social workers any real concerns before the matters that were investigated by the police.
Social workers, who have been working with the couple before, during the time the bruises were alleged to have been caused and afterwards, did not support the decision by the CPS to prosecute the couple. Directing the jury to return not guilty verdicts on all charges, the Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC said: “There really was quite simply inadequate material upon which you the jury should be invited to return verdicts of guilty.”
The parents were arrested in February 2016 when they gave non-criminal explanations for the bruises. Months later they were each charged with two offences each of ill-treating the three-year-old boy. They are not being named to protect the child’s identity.
The CPS has defended its decision to bring charges and to continue the case to trial.
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Called to give evidence as part of the prosecution case, Dr Elizabeth Baker, a consultant paediatrician at York Hospital, who examined the child, said he was generally in good health. Bruises on his forearm could have been accidental, or could have been non-accidental and caused by him being gripped.
The judge told the jury of other bruises allegedly caused by the parents: “There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever apart from the bald statement that they occurred. You have got no photographs, no sketches, no expert medical evidence in respect of the vast majority of what is spoken of in this case.” Andrew Semple for the prosecution said there was no suggestion the parents had been sadistic towards their child. Barrister Elizabeth Fry for the father and solicitor advocate Neal Kutte for the mother urged the judge to throw the case out after he and the jury had heard all the prosecution evidence. A spokesman for CPS Yorkshire and Humberside said: “This case was charged in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. After a careful review of the evidence we concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that it was in the public interest to prosecute.”
She added about the lack of support form York family services: “We will take the views of third parties into consideration, but ultimately the decision to prosecute is solely a matter for the CPS.”