It is one of the most fundamental principles of law that those who unlawfully take the lives of others cannot benefit from their victims’ deaths. In one case which illustrated the point, a mentally ill man who fatally beat his 87-year-old mother was prevented from inheriting her £150,000 estate.
The mother had devoted much of her life to looking after her son, who had never left home. However, as age caught up with her and the caring roles were reversed, her son could not cope. Over several months, he subjected her to assaults of increasing intensity, culminating in a fatal attack in which he broke her ribs and caused internal bleeding. She died in hospital about two weeks later.
The son was charged with murder but prosecutors eventually accepted his guilty plea to manslaughter in the light of his mental health ...
Family judges are focused on protecting the most vulnerable members of society, in particular children, whose welfare is always treated as of paramount importance. In one case, a judge ruled that a baby girl, who was born after her mother concealed her pregnancy from social workers, must be adopted outside her natural family.
The girl’s mother had been so desperate to keep her that she gave false information to midwives and gave birth under an assumed name. Social workers suspected the truth, however, and took action a fortnight after her delivery. An emergency care order was issued and the child was placed in foster care.
Her parents continued to have regular contact with her and urged the judge to find that they were capable of bringing her up. However, the judge noted that the girl’s father had previously been found to ...