The Supreme Court has acquitted a family court judge of breach-of-trust offences for failing to disclose to a judge that the father of a deceased child had an underlying illness.
Key points:The court found that the man’s daughter was at least 17 at the time of the alleged breachThe woman had an undisclosed medical condition, which the court believed was related to the death of her motherThe woman’s daughter died at the age of 15, but the judge’s decision was not based on that evidenceThe court held the judge had failed to disclose the woman’s illness as part of his duties to her daughter, and in contravention of his duty to the other judges of the court.
The case, which was referred to the Supreme Court’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), came after the father’s daughter’s mother died at age 15.
In 2016, the court held that the judge should have disclosed the woman was in need of intensive care in order to be able to continue to conduct her court duties.
“It would have been in the best interests of the father and the daughter for the court to have been able to conduct the court’s duties and responsibilities, as well as to have the mother of the deceased child, who had a medical condition at the stage of which the mother died, available for court,” the court said in its decision.
The court said it was unable to find any evidence that the woman, who was also a judge, had disclosed the condition to the court in advance.
It said the judge also breached his duty of care to the woman by failing to provide a statement to the mother about the conditions of her daughter and the woman.
At the time, the mother had been living in the same home as her daughter.
She was declared deceased in March 2019.
The court heard that the mother was prescribed medical treatment for an unspecified medical condition and the mother’s daughter had been receiving it.
When she died, the father asked the judge to keep a copy of the mother and daughter’s wills to make sure he was responsible for the mother.
The judge did not give this information to the father, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) said.
However, the parents had a meeting with the judge and he did not tell them about the mother having an undisclosed illness, the decision said.
“It is therefore apparent that the court should have taken this opportunity to inform the court of the condition of the child in order for the father to be responsible for her death,” the JC said.
The woman said the father had never told her about the condition, and she did not trust the father either.
“I had a great deal of difficulty trusting the father,” she said.
It was not known whether the father will appeal against the decision.