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DNA test reveals teenage brother and sister had baby


 The Law Courts in Belfast

The Law Courts in Belfast

The Law Courts in Belfast

DNA testing has revealed that a teenage brother and sister had a baby together in Northern Ireland.

The little boy, who is now a toddler, was born in 2012 as a result of the siblings' incest.

His mother was aged just 13 when she became pregnant, while his father – her older brother – was 15.

None of the family can be identified for legal reasons.

Carers have described the mother as a "very vulnerable young girl" and "a victim of the way in which she was raised".

Details of the case emerged as a Belfast High Court judge cleared the way for the toddler's adoption.

Mr Justice O'Hara ruled that the mother is incapable of giving consent, so the authorities do not require a "freeing order" to arrange the adoption.

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The family's circumstances were described in court as "depressing".

Both the mother, referred to as A, and her son, J, were taken into care – in different settings – within months of the birth.

With no suitable family arrangements available, the little boy has since been placed with another couple.

The father, Z, disputed that he was the father – but DNA testing proved he was.

The trust involved in the case sought a freeing order on the basis that it is in J's best interests to be adopted – a view the judge held to be clearly correct.

Although the child's father took little part in the proceedings, Mr Justice O'Hara had to decide whether the mother's agreement should be dispensed with because she is incapable of giving consent or whether she is unreasonably withholding consent.

Now aged 16, the court heard A – who was a schoolgirl when she became pregnant – has had an "exceptionally difficult life".

There had been recurring social services involvement because of concerns about her, her siblings and her mother and step-father.

"None of this is A's fault – she is a victim of the way in which she was raised," the judge said.

"It is hard to identify any positive life experience which she has enjoyed."

An educational psychologist's report on her mathematical ability found only 3% of pupils the same age would have scored the same or lower on a numerical operations test and just 16% on reasoning.

She produced stronger results on reading and spelling abilities.

With staff at her children's home categorising her as "a very vulnerable young girl", the judge also detailed a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist's report which "sets out in grim detail how miserable A's life has been".

The expert stated: "A is not in a position to fully understand the possible consequences of the various decisions which have to be made for herself and for J.

"A's reluctance to fully engage in the assessment process is one manifestation of this, but the history and her responses during interviews have also informed my opinion in this regard."

Based on her reports, Mr Justice O'Hara ruled that the mother is not competent to make a decision on J's adoption.

In a judgment made public last week, he said: "A is undoubtedly capable of making some decisions as is shown by some elements of the psychological assessment, but not a decision which is of a magnitude and which has the consequences of the present one.

"It appears to me that this finding on her competence undermines the proposition that she can be properly regarded as unreasonably withholding her agreement to adoption."

The judge confirmed: "I am satisfied that the agreement of A to the making of an adoption order for J should be dispensed with because A is incapable of giving her agreement."

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