The Court of Appeal has overturned the decision of a lower court to allow a father, against whom allegations of violence towards the mother of his child had been made, to vary the terms of contact arrangements made earlier so that he could continue to see his child. The father faced criminal charges, brought by the mother, of common assault and indecent assault and she had secured a non-molestation order against him.
Under the existing arrangement, he was allowed contact with the child for two hours every fortnight and that contact took place at a contact centre. The father applied for an order that would give him contact supervised by his mother (the child’s paternal grandmother) in her home. The child’s mother was given no notice of the application.
The judge hearing the father’s application allowed it despite the fact that the grandmother had been charged with (but acquitted of) allowing her second husband to sexually abuse her two daughters.
The mother appealed against this decision on the basis that the grandmother was an inappropriate person to guarantee the safety of the child during contact sessions.
The Court of Appeal concluded that the judge should not have changed the basis of contact without having undertaken a proper investigation of the mother’s concerns, and allowed the appeal.