Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Father allowed to see daughter more

Latest courts news
Latest courts news

A retired policeman who has been allowed to see his daughter no more than three times a year for the past seven years has persuaded a judge to let him have more contact.

Judge Clifford Bellamy ruled that the 56-year-old man, a former police pursuit driver whose three-year marriage to a teacher foundered three weeks before the 13-year-old girl was born, should be allowed "direct contact" eight times a year.

But the judge - who made the ruling following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in Leicester - refused the man's request for contact to increase to at least once a month and he said the teenager could not stay overnight.

Judge Bellamy also barred the man from sending more than three text messages, or three emails, to his daughter in any 24-hour period.

And he said the man could not communicate with her through any social network account that she might set up.

The decision came after the man was criticised by other judges at earlier hearings.

One judge had said the man was "controlling", "autocratic", "authoritarian", "overbearing" and "domineering" when dealing with his 47-year-old ex-wife.

Another said the man's many good qualities were being "masked by his obsessions" and said he gave the impression of being "an inexhaustible bulldozer".

And Judge Bellamy said a psychologist described the man as being "like a child" when he came to court - "asking again and again to have his needs met".

Judge Bellamy said a court order made in 2006 allowed the man to have direct contact with his daughter three times a year.

He said the man wanted contact to increase to at least once a month and wanted the teenager to be allowed to stay overnight. And the man was confident that the youngster wanted him to see her more frequently.

The man's ex-wife was opposed such an increase in contact. She had told the court how she became a "doormat" and feared that the teenager would be "vulnerable" to her father's "manipulation".

And the girl had asked to see her father six times a year, said the judge.

"I did not sense that the father has any insight into the reasons for or the reasonableness of the criticisms made of him in the earlier litigation. Although he has undertaken some counselling, I did not get a sense of any real change," said Judge Bellamy.

"I do not for one moment doubt the sincerity and strength of the father's love for (his daughter). From a human perspective, his wish to play a bigger part in her life - and to give her the opportunity to play a bigger part in his - is entirely understandable.

"However, it is clear that he still has great difficulty in separating his wishes from (her) wishes and his needs from (her) needs."

The judge said he was not convinced that the man could be relied on to meet the teenager's "emotional needs" and added: "There is a wide gulf between the contact sought by the father and the increased but limited contact sought by (the girl).

"I am in no doubt that the welfare checklist analysis does not support the extensive contact sought by the father."

Judge Bellamy said the girl had never known a time when her parents lived together as a family. He said there had been constant litigation for the first six years of the girl's life. And he said the "contact issue" became "intractable".

Detail of the case emerged in a written judgment published on a legal website. Judge Bellamy said the child and her parents could not be identified.

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