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Sorry, Archers question

(13 Posts)
AugustaFinkNottle Sun 24-Apr-16 14:05:49

There's a legal question that seems to come up quite often on the Archers thread which no-one seems able to answer, and I wondered whether anyone on here could help.

For non-listeners, the situation is that wife is currently in custody awaiting trial for stabbing her husband, who has survived. She has a 5 year old son by donor sperm, husband has parental responsibility. Son witnessed the alleged stabbing and has given a statement. He's being looked after by his maternal grandparents, and isn't being allowed to see his mother because he's a witness.

The question being asked is - would that happen in RL, or would arrangements be made for him to see his mother under supervision to prevent her influencing his evidence in any way?

BoreOfWhabylon Sun 24-Apr-16 14:10:23

<lurks in hope of answer from Those Who Know These Things>

runningincircles12 Sun 24-Apr-16 19:00:21

Oooh, that is a really interesting question. Criminal courts and family courts have different jurisdictions. The principles that they apply are also very different- the family courts are concerned with the child's welfare and the criminal courts with the proper administration of justice.

In real life, if the mum is in custody, there would need to be arrangements made for the child to be looked after. Social services would be involved and I can imagine that they would place the child with the grandparents in the first hand. So that bit is not unrealistic.

Now, regarding the child being a witness- is his statement being made in favour of his mum or is it to assist the prosecution? It might be that if the statement is made in support of his mum (and he is likely to be a witness for the defence) that the mum's defence team has advised her to have no contact with the child in case there are accusations that she has influenced him in some way.

The other thing is that for a child that young, there may be issues as to 'competency'. All witnesses of whatever age are presumed to be competent. However, the exception is where it appears to the court that the witness cannot understand or answer questions put to him. I think there would be questions about how much weight can be placed on this child's evidence.

It may also be that social services do not consider supervised contact (in prison) to be in the child's best interest for the time being, given that he is going to have to give evidence. But generally, a parent being in prison is not necessarily a bar to contact taking place, especially if they are only on remand. So I would be more inclined to think that the mum has been advised by her legal team that if they are going to rely on the evidence of the 5 year old, that she cannot have contact with him (although closely supervised contact could still have been possible).

I never listen to the Archers but this storyline sounds very interesting. So the dad survived then? Is he still in hospital and is he having any contact with the child?

zen1 Sun 24-Apr-16 19:06:14

The husband is still in hospital. He only adopted the child in the last year, so mother was a single parent when she gave birth. I want to know if he can still have contact if his wife alleges abuse by the husband against herself and her son.

TheGhostOfBarryFairbrother Sun 24-Apr-16 19:09:29

But it wasn't a full adoption, was it?

Gruach Sun 24-Apr-16 19:15:17

The vile husband is now out of hospital. He has not adopted Henry; he pressed for parental responsibility - which he now has. He has no bio connection to Henry.

Start listening running! And come over to the Archers thread.

zen1 Sun 24-Apr-16 19:15:39

I don't know. I've only been dipping in and out since the Helen and Rob storyline!

zen1 Sun 24-Apr-16 19:16:45

X post. Well, I'm glad it wasn't full adoption.

runningincircles12 Sun 24-Apr-16 19:31:45

Oh, I will definitely check it out.
With the contact issues, as social services are involved, I would think that they would be very careful about allowing the husband to have contact with the child. If there have been abuse allegations made against the husband in respect of the child, I can definitely see them preventing contact for the time being. This is despite the fact that he has parental responsibility (he must have been granted this on the basis that he was a step-parent).
I would also think that the mum has a decent case for being granted bail (doesn't sound like she would be likely to re-offend or be a danger). There have to be exceptional circumstance to grant it for murder, but this is only attempted murder (or even GBH). But maybe that is a future storyline...

zen1 Sun 24-Apr-16 19:49:57

Thanks for clearing that up running

Gruach Sun 24-Apr-16 20:37:17


Three years old today!

Your SS/custody expertise would be very useful running. Don't worry about not having listened before - plenty of people to bring you up to date with the past 60 years.


AugustaFinkNottle Mon 25-Apr-16 11:33:29

running, thanks for your response. The child's evidence is likely to be against the mother's case, though we don't know for sure; but they decided to charge her shortly after interviewing him. There haven't been any direct allegations of abuse from her, just from a friend she confided in - but she in fact told the friend very little of what had been going on. Husband is now out of hospital and he and his mother have unilaterally refused to return child to the maternal grandparents after an agreed visit.

This isn't so much an issue as to the child's competency to give evidence - I think we have to assume for immediate purposes that he is. Nor is it necessarily a social services decision; it seems to be the case that it's generally accepted that the mother can't see her child because he's a prosecution witness and she might taint his evidence. I'm not clear whether they're saying that's something imposed by the police, or if they're suggesting that it's a generally acknowledged rule under the laws on evidence.

Laura812 Mon 25-Apr-16 16:00:57

I wonder what the difference between the parental responsiblity the step father has is in terms of rights than if he had adopted him. Anyway the father has snatched him back from the grandparents so I hope they get a court order to have him returned to them immediately but it's not going to be at all easy as the boy will say he wants to be with his step father and there is no reason to dispute he is not fit to look after him.

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