Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Laws of Eve | Lessons from Ellie

Published:Monday | June 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM

A little six-year-old girl named Ellie Butler was killed by her father in England in 2013, and it is truly sad that the issues regarding her custody have attracted more attention since she died than they did when she was alive. Earlier this year, her father was convicted for murder.

Little Ellie was injured when she was a baby, and her father, who was charged with assault, was acquitted based on a technicality. While that charge was pending, Ellie lived with her grandparents, but when the case concluded, she was returned to her parents. Ellie's grandfather fought a courageous and expensive legal battle to get a court to grant him custody, but he did not succeed.

Ellie's grandfather ran out of money before the case was concluded, and was forced to proceed without being represented, and she was not able to speak directly to the judge to state that she wished to live with her grandfather.

A number of issues arise that are appropriate for consideration in Jamaica:

• Should children be returned to parents who have known violent tendencies?

• Should grandparents have the right to apply for custody of their grandchildren?

• In what circumstances should judges interview children and consider their wishes in

custody cases?

• How thorough are the reports prepared by children's services or probation officers in child-custody cases?

• Should domestic violence and child-custody cases be reported so that greater attention is paid to them before a tragedy occur?

• Should legal aid be available in domestic violence and child-

custody cases?

I will analyse the responses to some of these questions in next week's article.

• Sherry Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator in the firm of Nunes Scholefield DeLeon & Co. Please send questions and comments to or