He's only nine years old, but already in his young life he’s been through some of the most harrowing experiences anyone could imagine.
The grim litany of neglect suffered by a young boy in Northern Ireland at the hands of his own parents was outlined in court yesterday.
The details provide a rare insight into the horror which a child can suffer when exposed to domestic disputes. A disturbing series of events included the little boy having to run to fetch help after his mother stabbed his father, and the traumatic experience of police raids in his home.
The court also heard that he had tasted a white powder left on a bench and had felt “funny” afterwards.
The case highlights the problem of children suffering from neglect. There are currently 1,000 children considered to be at risk in Northern Ireland.
A leading children’s charity has warned the Executive that unless the social services budget is protected from cuts then many more cases of neglect could develop.
In Belfast High Court yesterday Northern Ireland's most senior judge detailed the “horrendous situation” suffered by the nine-year-old boy as he granted a care order sought by an unnamed health and social services trust.
Although Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan recognised efforts made by the boy's parents towards having him returned to their care, he decided they were not ready to look after him again.
The background to the case involved the child's father having an extensive criminal record for drug-dealing and violent offences.
Domestic disputes culminated in the boy's mother stabbing his father with a kitchen knife in June 2009.
The child did not see the actual attack, but witnessed events leading up to it and saw the wounds inflicted.
Sir Declan set out how the boy had to run for help, shouting “police, get the police, my mummy is going to stab my daddy”.
On the day of the stabbing there was white powder lying on a bench in the property.
The boy told a health visitor that he tasted the substance and reported that it made him feel “funny”, the judge noted.
In a further illustration of the
emotional harm to the child, his mother claimed he was permitted to watch violent war videos at home.
With the mother moving into a women's aid refuge after the stabbing incident, the boy has stayed with an older sister.
His parents have since reunited and undertaken counselling and had good contact arrangements with the child who, Sir Declan accepted, is clearly very fond of both of them. Both were said to be anxious to ensure that the child can be returned to them.
The Lord Chief Justice said: “I am entirely satisfied that the protection of this child requires the continuing participation of the trust. The duration and extent of the participation will depend upon the progress made by the parents.”