The case will no doubt be seen by some as a damning indictment of the family justice system, which clearly failed this father (who, as Judge Bellamy pointed out, had done more than many fathers would do to try to establish a positive relationship with his son) and, more importantly, failed this child. The question, of course, is: what else could have been done? Unfortunately, the judgment does not give enough details to answer that question in any detail, although the obvious candidate for criticism is the habitual issue of delay in dealing with the case. There may also have been an issue of failure to enforce an order, although the father did of course indicate that he wanted to withdraw shortly after the September 2016 order was made.

Whatever, the case is a tragedy for father and son alike