- The Times Newspaper has given some prominence to the case of Jayda Wray who, after eighteen months has been returned to her parents Chana al-Alas and Rohan Wray after a lengthy battle in the Courts. The young couple, they were both under twenty, were charged with the murder of their first child Jayden, when he was discovered to have multiple fractures to his body. When Chana gave birth to their second child, Jayda, she was taken into care immediately.
- They stood trial for the murder of their first-born, and were acquitted after experts for the defence said the injuries were caused by rickets due to a vitamin D deficiency that his mother suffered from, and had past on to him. The prosecution experts disagreed and claimed the injuries resulted from the parents assaulting the child. The couple then endured the trial being repeated in the Family Court as the Local Authority continued with proceedings to keep Jayda in their care. This second hearing lasted six weeks as experts gave their conflicting opinions again, eventually the judge rules in the couples favour and their now eighteen month old child has been returned to their care.
- How could this happen you might ask? The answer lies in the difference between the standard and burden of proof required by the two courts. In the criminal trial the standard is high, it stays with the prosecution throughout the trial, and they have to make the jury sure of the defendants guilt. In the family court the Local Authority only has to satisfy the judge on a balance of probabilities that the defendants caused the injuries. Presumably the Social Workers involved in the case believed that on balance it was more likely than not Chana and Rohan had murdered their child, so went ahead with the care proceedings.
- No doubt the Social Workers concerned wanted to ensure the safety of the younger child and therefore were right to continue to seek care orders for Jayda, but I can’t help but feel there must be a better way than this double trial of the issues. Has anybody any ideas?