Couple win Lancashire County Council custody battle

A couple whose two children were taken into foster care following the sudden death of a third child have won a High Court custody fight with Lancashire County Council.

Social workers wanted the two girls aged, three and one, to be taken from their parents permanently.

They alleged the third daughter, who died at 16 weeks, probably suffocated sleeping on a sofa with her father.

The council acted "entirely properly" in starting proceedings the judge said.

The couple were both in their late 20s and ran a small business, the court heard.

'Intelligent and aspirational'

Social workers said they were concerned because the couple's oldest girl suffered a fractured skull when she was a baby, and alleged that one or both parents knew how the injury occurred and were keeping quiet.

But Mr Justice Peter Jackson said the cause of the baby girl's death remained unknown and said there was no proof the parents knew how the oldest girl was injured.

He said the local authority "alleges that (baby girl) probably died as a result of her father lying on her when he was sleeping on the same sofa, or that he recklessly put her to sleep on the sofa in such a way that she rolled and could not breathe."

But Mr Justice Jackson said there was no suggestion the baby girl died as the result of any "deliberate act" by either parent and ordered the two children should be returned to their parents.

"They are intelligent, hard-working and aspirational," he said of the couple.

"This is seen not only in the business, started by the mother alone at a very young age, but also in their home and garden.

"The tragic events with which the court is concerned must be assessed within this context."

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