Judge rules parents whose child was placed for adoption aren’t victims

Judge rules ‘innocent’ parents who complained when social workers took their child and placed them for adoption despite prosecutors abandoning cruelty claims were NOT the victims of a miscarriage of justice

  • Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter said they were unfairly blamed by Surrey County Council and a family court judge after allegations made in 2012
  • Senior judge reviewed evidence and said child was victim of ‘cruelty’ when baby
  • Sir James Munby concluded they were not victims of miscarriage of justice 

Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter (pictured in 2015) said they had been unfairly blamed by Surrey County Council social workers and a family court judge when they were accused of child cruelty

A couple whose baby was handed to adopters even though a child cruelty case had been abandoned were not the victims of a miscarriage of justice, a leading judge has concluded after a review.

Karrissa Cox and former soldier Richard Carter, who are in their late 20s and from Guildford, said they were ‘innocent parents’ and had been unfairly blamed by Surrey County Council social workers and a family court judge.

The couple, who are no longer together, said they would fight to regain the child, and clear their names, after being acquitted on the direction of a judge who oversaw a criminal court trial three years ago.

They said the ‘family court process’ had left them feeling ‘presumed guilty’.

But a senior family court judge who reviewed evidence has now concluded that their child was the victim of ‘really serious’ abuse and ‘cruelty’ when a baby.

Sir James Munby said that, during the first few weeks of life, the child suffered an ‘extraordinary constellation’ of ‘inflicted injuries’ for which there was no ‘innocent explanation’.

He said in a ruling published on Friday that he could not be sure exactly who caused which injuries.

But he said only Ms Cox and Mr Carter, an Afghanistan war veteran, were ‘within the pool of possible perpetrators’.

Sir James, who until his recent retirement was president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, said Ms Cox and Mr Carter carry a ‘high measure of responsibility’ for ‘serious parental failures’.

Sir James Munby reviewed evidence from the case and concluded that the parents were not the victims of a miscarriage of justice and that their child was the victim ‘cruelty’ when a baby

Mr Carter and Ms Cox (pictured) said they would fight to regain the child after the case was abandoned but Sir James said they abandoned their attempt to regain the child at an early stage of his review

He backed the family court judge who analysed the case three years ago, pointed the finger of blame at Ms Cox and Mr Carter and approved the child’s adoption.

Sir James said the family court ‘process’ overseen by Judge Peter Nathan had been vindicated and that neither Ms Cox nor Mr Carter, nor their child, had been victims of any miscarriage of justice.

The judge also revealed that the couple, who are no longer together, had abandoned their attempt to regain the child at an early stage of his review.

He said he thinks they realised ‘the game was up’.


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Sir James had re-considered the case at a private hearing in London and imposed limits on what could be reported pending the outcome of his review.

He said the couple, and the council involved, can now be named in reports of his new ruling.

But he said neither the child, nor the adoptive parents, could be named.  

In 2012 staff at Surrey County Council raised concerns, shortly after the child was born, after medics found the child had broken bones in an arm and leg, a torn upper lip frenulum and bruises on the chest, stomach, legs, arms and back. 

In 2015 the child was adopted and  the couple were prosecuted, accused of child cruelty, but are later acquitted.


The trial at Guildford Crown Court, overseen by Judge Christopher Critchlow, was abandoned after one medical expert says he cannot be sure that the child suffered fractures. Ms Cox said after the trial that: ‘We took our child to the hospital and they stole our baby from us’

The trial at Guildford Crown Court, overseen by Judge Christopher Critchlow, was abandoned after one medical expert says he cannot be sure that the child suffered fractures.

Defence lawyers argued the X-rays were consistent with rickets and the prosecution later said one of their experts could not be sure of fractures.

It was later discovered that the child had a vitamin D deficiency, which causes infantile rickets.

The baby was also suffering from the blood disorder Von Willebrand II, which causes someone to bruise more easily.

Speaking in 2015 Mr Carter, an Afghanistan veteran with 2nd Battalion The Rifles, described the moment his child was taken away from him and said it ‘just rips your soul away from you’.

Miss Cox said her child was adopted in March, seven months before the criminal case was dropped.

She said: ‘We took our child to the hospital and they stole our baby from us.’

‘That was the hardest news we ever had to face. We had no say, no choice. The judge just granted the adoption.’

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