A couple’s pain after child ‘ripped away’

  • Court ruling: Assistant Justice David Kessaram (File photograph)

    Court ruling: Assistant Justice David Kessaram (File photograph)

A couple asked a court to consider whether they should be awarded compensation after their three-year-old son was unlawfully seized by police from their home on the instructions of the island’s child protection agency.

The American pair sought unspecified damages from the director of the Department of Child and Family Services, the Attorney-General and the Bermuda Police Service after a judge earlier found that the authorities had acted wrongly.

Their ongoing lawsuit was launched after they left the island as they tried to stop the same thing happening to another family in Bermuda.

The boy was taken by officers from the family home in May 2017 and was not returned to his parents for two days.

His mother said, in an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court: “Nothing can describe the pain of my child being ripped away and being incapable of helping him.

“I cannot imagine what he must have gone through and the effect it will have on his development, but I fear he has been irreparably harmed.”

The couple won the case and received a ruling from Assistant Justice David Kessaram in February last year that the DCFS, the Family Court and the police had “improperly exercised” their powers.

Their son had been to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital three times with injuries between December 2014 and May 2017, including the day before he was removed from the family home.

But the judge found that the DCFS did not have enough evidence to seek an emergency protection order.

The emergency room doctor who saw the child on May 2, 2017 diagnosed an injury common in young children and said the parents were “concerned and interactive appropriately”.

The health professional added: “I did not have any concerns that this child had been abused in any way ...”

Mr Justice Kessaram said there was “simply no basis” for the Family Court to “find that there was reasonable cause to believe that significant harm would likely be suffered by [the child] if left in the care of his parents”.

The boy’s father said earlier this year: “We are hoping that once concluded, this case will help right the wrong brought on to our family, create accountability and protect other families.”

The mother said last year that she and her son saw a therapist to help them after they left the island.

She added: “It really helped to find the words to explain to him what happened because we wanted to make sure that he didn’t feel that he might have done something wrong.”

The woman said: “I couldn’t imagine a worse emotional feeling for a mother than to see this happen to her child.”

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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