Court or­ders fa­ther not to con­tact son he branded ‘re­tarded’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Talk Of The Town - By Sanchez Man­ning

AN ABU­SIVE fa­ther who re­peat­edly called his six-year-old autis­tic son ‘re­tarded’ has been stripped of his parental rights in a rare le­gal move.

Deputy High Court Judge Frances Judd QC ruled it was in the boy’s best in­ter­ests for the fa­ther’s parental re­spon­si­bil­ity to be removed af­ter he wrote about him ‘in dread­ful terms’.

It is be­lieved to be only the third time a court in Eng­land and Wales has ap­proved re­moval of parental re­spon­si­bil­ity, a le­gal con­cept set­ting out the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of moth­ers and fa­thers.

A hear­ing in the Fam­ily Di­vi­sion of the High Court in Lon­don was told how last au­tumn the fa­ther posted notes to his for­mer part­ner’s neigh­bours telling them the child was ‘re­tarded’ and could not enjoy trick or treat­ing or Hal­loween. In Novem­ber 2017 he also wrote to the mother’s so­lic­i­tors, say­ing: ‘I have the great­est plea­sure know­ing that C (the mother) is strug­gling to cope with her re­tarded son and that she will now be spend­ing a lot of her time with var­i­ous autism sup­port and par­ent­ing pro­grammes etc and given the sever­ity of her son’s autism the plea­sure of her son go­ing to a spe­cial school for re­tarded chil­dren in the fu­ture.’

The fa­ther added that he was pleased that his for­mer part­ner and their son had to sleep in her par­ents’ bed­room while the par­ents slept on a sofa in the front room.

He wrote: ‘I will con­tinue to ensure that my in­come will con­tinue to re­main be­low the thresh­old to qual­ify for any main­te­nance pay­ments what­so­ever.’

The cou­ple had been in a re­la­tion­ship for two years, which ended shortly af­ter the birth of their son in 2012. So­cial work­ers be­came in­volved amid claims the fa­ther was emo­tion­ally abu­sive, in­tim­i­dat­ing and con­trol­ling.

The mother later won a non­mo­lesta­tion or­der against him from the High Court in Novem­ber 2017. She told the court he had blocked her ef­forts to ensure the boy had the med­i­cal and ed­u­ca­tional sup­port he needed.

The mother said that the fa­ther was in­tim­i­dat­ing and would be able to use his rights un­der parental re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­lay treat­ment for the boy, iden­ti­fied in court as ‘B’. In her rul­ing, the judge said the fa­ther saw him­self as a vic­tim and sent deeply un­pleas­ant emails to var­i­ous peo­ple. There was no prospect of a change in his at­ti­tude, which was bel­liger­ent, abu­sive and in­tim­i­dat­ing.

‘The fa­ther is so bound up in him­self and his own anger that he has been pre­pared to write about his son in dread­ful terms, terms that will be deeply dis­tress­ing to B if he ever comes to know about it,’ she wrote in her rul­ing.

Judge Judd said she agreed that the boy needed a happy, con­fi­dent mother and that the fa­ther’s in­volve­ment in his son’s life was more about his need to con­trol her than care for their son.

‘I have... come to the con­clu­sion that it is in (the boy’s) best in­ter­ests for his fa­ther’s parental re­spon­si­bil­ity to be removed,’ she wrote.

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