There is fervent interest in the case surrounding whether a young girl who has been severely damaged by her mother’s heavy drinking whilst she was in the womb is entitled to compensation.
The Guardian reports how lawyers told the court of appeal that the damaged inflicted was akin to an attempt at manslaughter.
It’s believed that as may as 80 other claims on behalf of children suffering from foetal alcohol spectrum disorder are waiting to see if the three judges hearing the case conclude that the girl, now seven, is entitled to payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The claim has been filed by the local authority, which cares for the child, against the CICA. It maintains the mother’s action constituted the crime of poisoning under section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
The identities of the child and the local authority in the north-west of England have been protected. The court was told how the mother showed a complete disregard for the advice given to her by social workers and antenatal medical staff about how her heavy alcohol consumption put her unborn baby at risk.
The mother, who is no longer in contact with the child, was drinking some 40-57 units of alcohol a day whilst pregnant, the court heard. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence state that 7.5 units may damage a foetus.
Foetal alcohol syndrome can result in babies being born with brain damage as well as distorted facial features. The local authority was successful in its claim in the initial hearing but lost in the upper administrative tribunal on the basis that an unborn child is not a person in law, as such no criminal offence could have been committed.
Judgment has been reserved.