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Exonerated parents seek the return of their adopted child

Child suffered Vitamin D deficiency

Two parents whose child was taken into foster care and subsequently adopted have been exonerated today at Guildford Crown Court of causing any injury to their 6-week old baby, three years after the baby was taken from them and adopted. The couple are now to seek the return of their child.

The parents, Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter, were represented at court by their barristers, Michael Turner QC and Emma Fenn of Garden Court Chambers. The prosecution offered no evidence on 7th October 2015. Not guilty verdicts were entered.

Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter said:

"We took our child to the hospital seeking help and they stole our baby from us."

The couple plan to appeal against the adoption order and say that if their appeal proves unsuccessful because of the current laws, they will try to persuade politicians to pass new legislation which takes account of circumstances such as their own.

Michael Turner QC of Garden Court Chambers 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."

On 24th April 2012 Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter took their 6-week old baby to the A&E department at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. They were concerned as the baby had bleeding in the mouth following a feed so they rushed their baby to hospital.

It was discovered that 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 taken into care and then adopted. For two years the parents were allowed supervised contact with the child and were observed to be exemplar parents. Proceedings were commenced in the family courts where no real challenge to the science was made. A finding of abusive injury was inevitable. During the criminal proceedings, the defence team headed up by Michael Turner QC leading Emma Fenn, specialists in criminal non-accidental injury cases, instructed a number of experts to challenge the scientific evidence – the clue – a low vitamin D reading at seven weeks old.

The defence experts emphatically rejected fractures and child abuse. They reported vitamin D deficiency and healing infantile rickets. Professor Stephen Nussey, a consultant endocrinologist, recommended that the Guthrie card (a blood spot sample taken at 5 days) be tested for vitamin D. The prosecution had never tested this. Since the child had been fed on formula milk enriched with vitamin D from birth, it was likely to have increased the vitamin D reading. The defence pursued the Guthrie card. When it was eventually produced and tested, the reading came back: the baby was severely vitamin D deficient at 5 days old. The prosecution attacked the sample as unreliable.

The prosecution offered no evidence on 7th October 2015. Not guilty verdicts were entered.

Emma Fenn of Garden Court Chambers said:

"The Government needs to act fast. Vitamin D supplements were recommended to be given to every pregnant and lactating mother in 1991. A Coroner's Rule 43 report has made the same recommendation.

"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."

For the report in The Independent, please click here.