Three years after a 6-week-old baby was taken into foster care and adopted, its parents have been cleared of causing any injury to it.
Three years ago, the baby's parents, Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter, took their 6-week old baby to the A&E department at the Royal Surrey County Hospital because it had been bleeding from its mouth after it had been fed.
According to a statement on their lawyer's website, their baby had a "torn frenulum, but no other associated bruising or swelling in or around the mouth. In addition the baby had a number of minor bruises on the body. On skeletal X-ray it was said the baby had a number of healing metaphyseal fractures. Subsequently, the baby was found to have Von Willebrands II, a blood disorder which causes someone to bruise more easily."
The baby was then taken into care and adopted – for two years the parents were allowed supervised contact with their child. "Proceedings were commenced in the family courts where no real challenge to the science was made," the statement says. "A finding of abusive injury was inevitable."
During the criminal proceedings, defence experts reported the baby had a vitamin D deficiency along with healing infantile rickets. One defence expert recommended that the Guthrie card (a blood spot sample taken at 5 days old) be tested for vitamin D, but the prosecution dismissed it as "too old" and "unreliable". However, according to the parents' lawyers, "The defence knew that this child had been fed on formula milk enriched with vitamin D from birth which was likely to have increased the vitamin D reading."
The Guthrie card was eventually tested and showed "the baby was severely vitamin D-deficient at 5 days old".
This evidence was challenged by the prosecution, which depended on a report by a doctor who, according to the parents' lawyers, "was the principal evidence that the family court relied upon in concluding there had been child abuse".
The statement goes on: "Time and again, the defence experts' conclusions were shown to be correct. The prosecution instructed a further radiologist. That expert's opinion, given on 6th October 2015, three and a half years later, concluded that he was doubtful there were any fractures at all."
Not guilty verdicts were entered, and the prosecution offered no evidence on 7 October 2015.
The child was the couple's first baby. They have not had another since, as any child would have been likely to be taken into care due to the allegations.
"We took our child to the hospital seeking help and they stole our baby from us," the parents said in the statement.
Cox told The Independent: "I feel completely let down by the system, well and truly let down. It's been a long three years trying to battle this and we're going to fight to try to get our child back."
She told the paper: "[The child] said mummy and daddy quite a lot and used to get upset when it was time for contact to finish. [The child] wouldn't want to be put back in the car and would cling on, hold on to me. We'd love to have our child back home with us where [the child] belongs."
Michael Turner QC of Garden Court Chambers, who represented the parents, said: "These innocent parents have been spared a criminal conviction and a prison sentence for a crime they never committed. Their life sentence is that they are likely never to see their baby again."
Emma Fenn, who also represented the parents, said: "This tragic case highlights the real dangers of the Government's drive to increase adoption and speed up family proceedings at all costs. It also shows the perils of the continued inaction relating to a nationwide epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and rickets and the grave injustice that can result when relying on the opinions of medical professionals alone to conclude child abuse.
"Disgracefully, the parents could not obtain legal aid for the adoption proceedings after the savage legal aid cuts brought in three years ago".
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Cox and Carter for comment.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at email@example.com.
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