Family courts are STILL handing out prison sentences in secret

Family courts’ SECRET jailings: Judge hands toddler’s father anonymous 12-month suspended term for faking drug test in battle to gain access to his son

  • Man only identified as DZ given 12-month suspended term for contempt of court 
  • He faked a drug test to persuade court to allow him to have contact with his son
  • The sentence for the father of toddler is revival of secret jailings in family courts 
  • But following inquiries by the Mail, the father’s identity is to be made public 

The father of a toddler has been handed a prison sentence anonymously in a revival of secret jailings in family courts. 

The man, identified only as DZ, was given a 12-month suspended term for contempt of court. 

The decision to hand out an anonymous jail sentence runs against orders for judges which say that the public naming of individuals sent to prison is ‘mandatory’ with ‘no exceptions’. 

The ruling sets out that the father received a suspended prison term because he faked a drug test to persuade the court to allow him to have contact with his son. A stock image is used above [File photo]

This rule applies to sentences in which people are jailed immediately and suspended sentences. 

But there are now tighter restrictions on information released by family courts in order to provide anonymity for children. 

Designated Family Judge Anthony Hughes, who is in charge of family courts in Milton Keynes and Oxford, released his committal ruling on DZ weeks after handing out the suspended sentence. 

He said the judgment ‘is properly anonymised’ and even the age and sex of the child were removed. 

He is said to have a history of cocaine addiction and parted ways with his son’s mother in September 2018. A stock image is used above [File photo]

The toddler has now been revealed to be a boy. The ruling sets out that the father received a suspended prison term because he faked a drug test to persuade the court to allow him to have contact with his son. 

He is said to have a history of cocaine addiction and parted ways with his son’s mother in September 2018. 

During his attempt to win contact with his son, he falsified his drug test to show he had stopped using cocaine. 

Judge Hughes said in his ruling that cheating was a serious perversion of the course of justice and would normally merit immediate imprisonment. 

But he said the father was co-operating with the court and it would not be in the child’s interest to know his father was in prison. 

A spokesman for the judiciary said the anonymity was to ‘provide an opportunity for the relationship between father and son to develop.’ 

But following inquiries by the Mail, the father’s identity is to be made public. 

A string of family cases and incidents in the closely-linked Court of Protection have raised concerns that major lifechanging decisions are being made without public knowledge. 

The order to prevent secrecy was made in 2013 after a scandal over the imprisonment of property developer Wanda Maddocks. 

She repeatedly tried to move her 80-year old father from a care home where she thought his life was in danger. 

The judge – who had ordered Miss Maddocks, from Stoke-on-Trent, not to interfere – sentenced her to five months for contempt of court. 

Miss Maddocks was not present in court and was attacked in prison because inmates did not believe why she was there. 

All details of the case remained unknown to the public for six months and, as a result, senior judges ordered that no-one should be imprisoned in secret. 

But in recent years, new restrictions on public information have been brought in. 

The names of social workers, doctors and expert witnesses are now removed from published judgments, and councils whose social workers remove children from their parents are not identified. 

A string of family cases and incidents in the closely-linked Court of Protection have raised concerns that major lifechanging decisions are being made without public knowledge. A stock image is used above [File photo]

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