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Family’s 18 months of hell after two children are taken away when blundering social workers wrongly accuse them of breaking baby’s limbs


Family’s 18 months of hell after two children are taken away when blundering social workers wrongly accuse them of breaking baby’s limbs

  • Social workers accuse mother of harming her newborn son
  • Children taken into foster care despite any wrongdoing
  • Case dropped after doctors diagnose boy with brittle bone disorder

By Luke Salkeld for the Daily Mail
Updated: 10:56, 17 August 2011

A couple was accused of child abuse after doctors failed to realise their baby son’s ‘injuries’ were caused by genetic bone disease. Both parents were arrested and prevented from seeing their children unsupervised for 18 months before their innocence was finally acknowledged. Yesterday Amy Garland said she and her partner had been treated like criminals after they took their six-week-old son Harrison to the hospital when he was ill. Miss Garland and her partner Paul Crummey were arrested and banned from seeing their children alone before anyone realised that Harrison actually had the brittle bone disease or osteogenesis imperfecta. The rare condition is caused by a gene defect that impairs the production of the protein collagen, making bones fragile. Those with the disease can break their bones while being cuddled or even in their sleep. Around 40 to 60 babies are born with the disorder each year. Miss Garland, 26, who lives near Bristol, said her family had been left in tatters after she and Mr. Crummey split up over the stress caused by being separated from their children. As soon as the fractures were discovered, social services were called in. The couple could not explain the apparent injuries and police arrested them. Their daughter Bethany, then 20 months, was placed in the care of Miss Garland’s father. When the case went before Bristol County Court a judge ordered them to live in a family placement centre where their every move was observed. Miss Garland said: ‘The judge didn’t want to separate me from Harrison because I was still breastfeeding. We were watched 24 hours a day and there were cameras in every room. It was like a prison.’

After three months, staff could find nothing wrong with their parenting skills and recommended that the family be allowed to stay together. But social workers applied for an interim care order and the children were placed into foster care with Miss Garland’s mother. They were allowed contact with their parents for six hours a day, under supervision. This continued for more than a year until Miss Garland found an expert who said Harrison probably had osteogenesis imperfecta. Six months later, doctors agreed that this was a possibility and South Gloucestershire Social Services dropped the case. Miss Garland told last night how Harrison had been in obvi s discomfort in the weeks after his birth, but hospital tests found nothing. But when she got home she noticed his legs were swollen, and X-rays later showed he had several fractures in his arm, feet, and legs. Miss Garland said: ‘We had no idea that this condition was in our family so when they asked us how they happened we didn’t know. They said they needed to investigate it and we were happy for them to do that. The police and social services asked us a lot of questions. They asked me if there was any family history of violence. The police spoke to our neighbours asking what we were like. They went through our house. I was in absolute shock. I felt like a criminal.’

Even in hospital, she was not allowed to be alone with her son. ‘I wasn’t eating and I couldn’t sleep because I was worried they would take him from me,’ she said.

The strain caused the couple to split up two months after the children went into foster care. Miss Garland said: ‘It was horrible. When I went home at night and the kids weren’t there, I broke down. We took things out on each other.’

A month after the case was finally dropped two years ago, Harrison was officially diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta. Bethany, now five, was found to have a lesser type of condition. Harrison still has vitamin D injections to strengthen his bones and sees a physiotherapist to build up his muscles. Brittle bone disease is often confused with osteoporosis thinning bones in women after menopause but the two are not the same. Mr. Crummey, 41, who recently lost his job as a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, said: ‘All we wanted to do was help our sick child but we were treated like criminals. We’ve never received an apology from social services. It makes me feel very angry.’

A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: ‘We have a legal duty to protect children and young people and we always put the welfare of the child at the heart of how we deliver our services.’


Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), also referred to as brittle bone disease, is a genetic disorder where infants are born with defect connective tissues leaving their bones susceptible to tear. A person born with such a defect can remain troubled by this throughout his or her life. In addition to fractures people with OI often have muscle weakness, hearing loss, fatigue, joint laxity, curved bones, scoliosis, blue sclerae, dentinogenesis imperfecta (brittle teeth), and short stature.

Depression and lockdown

We have been in lockdown for three months although it is slowly easing up. Pubs will be opening up but gyms aren’t or nail bars as examples and it doesn’t make any sense. People can get drunk and forget about social distancing which scares me even though we don’t go to pubs much. I’m looking forward to going out for a meal occasionally but it worries me for that reason – some people drinking too much. I would prefer to go to the health club but the reason why health clubs, leisure clubs and gyms won’t open yet is based on the grounds that when people sweat droplets can be passed on. So why is going to the pub any better when people get relaxed?

I can understand why people are splitting up and domestic violence are on the increase. We have suffered even more with depression as we haven’t been able to go out to places we like. My sister and brother-in-law celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in May but we couldn’t go due to the distance and social distancing. Their daughters and families went round but had to sit outside. One of their daughters and son-in-law’s neighbour had a party and someone reported them to the police so the party was stopped. My sister was worried that the same would happen to them but they managed to celebrate without being reported.

Her youngest daughter had her third daughter on the 29th of April which was hard for all of the family because they couldn’t visit properly. My niece’s mother-in-law works in a doctor’s surgery so she hasn’t been able to visit or have cuddles which is very sad. My sister was able to go round on the 30th of April with clearance from the midwife so I’m pleased for her. I’m looking forward to visiting and was pleasantly surprised that her mother-in-law said it would be nice to meet up – we are friends on Facebook.

To make life difficult for us even more is a neighbour who has taken a dislike to us. He came out one day having a go at us about our ten cats using his garden to do their business. We don’t have ten cats, one of our cats spend quite a bit of time over the road with her sister and comes over to us to eat. One of our cats has a hiding place which we haven’t discovered yet and comes in to eat. Our other two (four cats in other words) spend time in our shed, indoors or over the road with our other cats. The neighbour has threatened to let his dogs out if he sees ‘our cats’ in his garden. He has been warned if anything happens to any cats in the area he will get the blame due to the threats. Fortunately we have a good enforcement officer in our housing association.

The neighbour made a couple of other accusations, one of which is that my husband is a wife beater. That just made me laugh. We are both quite loud when we argue but once an argument is over and done with that’s it. However, my balance has been getting progressively worse over the years so I do fall regularly so I will shout out for help. We also had a rescued staffie who was beautiful and gentle but in recent months she didn’t like us going out even to walk her and our other dog. She would turm from a placid dog to an aggressive, barking dog. She became worse and worse for getting aggressive towards her playmate and we would intervene. In the end we couldn’t cope anymore and she was sadly put to sleep. The vet was very understanding and knew we didn’t want her to potentially hurt anyone else or put her back into kennels. She had been in kennels for most of her first four years then we had her for three years so she knew she was well loved to the point of being spoilt. Going to bed is still hard as she used to sleep under my knees.