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