Accused of Rib Fractures

Case Study

The team at Wollens were able to help a mother who had been accused of causing injuries to her child. Eventually the case revealed that the child suffered with a metabolic bone disease and it was proven that the child’s parents were not to blame.

Amelia Smith, trainee solicitor assisting Rachel Carter at the time, reflects on the case here. 

Note: the names in this case study have been changed to protect the family. 

Clare and her partner had two children together, a son aged eight years and a daughter aged five months.  Both children had been born very prematurely and had medical issues as a result.  In September, her daughter developed a severe cough and was not taking feeds. Clare took her daughter to hospital where she was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection. In October, Clare’s daughter had a choking episode and was again taken to hospital as Clare was worried about her.  She was sent for an x-ray and to Clare’s disbelief, her daughter was found to have two rib fractures.

Child Protection protocols were initiated as Clare was not able to provide an explanation for the fractures.  The police arrived at the hospital, along with social services. They informed Clare that the doctors were concerned that the injuries were inflicted.  Care proceedings were instigated and Clare was also placed under criminal investigation.

Both children were removed from their parents care immediately. They were placed in the care of their grandparents who had been assessed by social services as appropriate to provide short term care. Clare was able to see her children, but only if she was supervised by either social services or a member of her family, as a safety precaution for the children. She saw the children three times per week.

Clare did some research and came across the Parents Accused website and instructed us to represent her within the care proceedings.

During the court process we ensured that Clare had a barrister who had experience in this kind of work.  We made sure Clare’s case received the right expertise by applying for and appointing certain independent medical experts to look into what had happened to her daughter. The reason why experts are appointed is to clarify what injuries are present, what may have caused them and to see whether the child is suffering from any disease or disorder that may have contributed to their injuries. 

An expert that we instructed for Clare found that her daughter did in fact suffer with a metabolic bone disease. This means her bones are weaker due to abnormalities of minerals such as calcium and vitamin D due to her prematurity and therefore meant she was more susceptible to breaking bones. Due to this finding, social services retracted their application to the Court and proceedings came to an end. 

It was proven that Clare did not harm her daughter. Whilst Clare was upset that her daughter was diagnosed with a disease, she was relieved to be cleared of the accusation of harming her daughter.  Her children have both now been returned to her full-time care.

This is a brief summary of a real-life case that took place over the course of four months.  If you have been accused of harming your child, please do get in contact with us to see how we can assist on 01803 213521 or via email at