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Single mom appalled after MURDER SUSPECT gets custody of her 2-yr-old son in almighty SCREW UP

Colin English conned the social workers and took official letters, the child’s passport and his birth certificate to win the child custody
Representative Image (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Representative Image (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A scheming former murder suspect won custody of a neighbor’s child after conning social workers, unearthed judgment from a family court has revealed. The horror started when the police turned up at night with neighbor Colin English and his wife Yvonne English to a single mother's house. The officers raided the house and gave the screaming child to the former murder suspect. The couple was allegedly given the two-year-old boy despite the opposition of the child’s mother, who did not know the court had approved a private foster agreement based on her forged signature.

The spurious agreement gave custody of her child to Colin English, who had faced a murder charge in 1991 but was acquitted on a judge’s instructions. The Englishes were allowed to keep the child for four months. The details came to light after reporting restrictions on a family court ruling were overturned and exposed how Colin exploited his access to the mother’s flat to mount a campaign to convince social workers that she had agreed to hand over her son to them. He took official letters, the child’s passport and his birth certificate to help prove his case.


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After moving in the neighborhood, the single working mother, who had recently split from her partner, was initially grateful when the Englishes, who were older with grown-up children, offered to babysit. Over the years they became ‘de facto surrogate grandparents’ to her children. When she met her new partner and future husband, he also treated Colin as a mentor and confided in personal matters to him. The young couple had two children and gave English a key to their flat, as he would often babysit their younger son while they worked. But the mother became concerned when ‘strange things’ started to happen, including her post going missing or being delivered late. She became so concerned that she reported it to the police and her MP, and told English. 

The parents of the child had initially trusted English ‘completely’, but became increasingly suspicious about his behavior and started to investigate him. The mother discovered that years earlier, he had been charged with murdering a young woman whose body has never been found. English did not take the murder charge seriously and spent his time while locked up awaiting trial doing sketches and writing a riddle about where the body might be. The mother found examples of English’s handwriting in press reports of these ‘riddles’, which she recognized as the writing on post taken from her flat. Once the situation was made aware to Daily Mail, they fought a legal battle to force the publication of a damning family court judgment from 2016.

Judge Janet Waddicor said she had ‘deep concerns’ about the case in a damning verdict about English’s behavior and the council’s failings. English was ‘duplicitous and deceitful and manipulative’ and some of his evidence was ‘fanciful, preposterous’ and ‘ludicrous’ and ‘insulting to the intelligence of everybody’ in the court," she ruled. The mother also discovered that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) social services were getting ‘malicious’ referrals about her parenting and the safety of her children. Only later, in a court judgment, it was revealed that English was behind these complaints as Judge Janet Waddicor said, "I judge it to be significant that at around the time the mail was going missing Mr English was making a number of allegations to children’s services about the mother’s care of her various children." Computer programmer English, a judge later ruled, had spent the previous two years making groundless anonymous complaints about the mother to social services and removing her letters and documents from her flat to help dupe officials into believing the plan.

A 2019 review by Sussex Police after the mother reported her concerns about the welfare and the safety of her family to the chief constable noted that "all criminal matters that had been reported to police had been recorded." But it concluded that no further action would be taken, and advised the mother to take further inquiries to the county council. Sussex Police said, "It is clear now that both the parent and ESCC were misled deliberately by a party in the case, whom the court criticized as manipulative. The decision of the parent to minimize their engagement with us contributed to the challenges within this case." The Englishes denied any wrongdoing, calling the judge’s findings ‘incorrect’ and without foundation. The mother also called for more transparency in the family courts. She added, "Although the social workers were taking my child away, because this was a private matter, behind closed doors, in a secret family court, we had no legal aid and no voice. People need to know what goes on in family law courts because they will be shocked." The council, meanwhile, had not bothered to check with the parents whether they agreed with, or were even aware of, the so-called new child care arrangement.

Family courts have historically been conducted in secret but have allowed a measure of public scrutiny over a series of scandals. But secrecy rules intended to protect children from being publicly identified have been tightened. When family court judgments are published, social workers, medical witnesses and even the names of councils are suppressed. The single mother had waged a six-year battle to try to warn others about the disturbing blunders in "public safety, public accountability and transparency." "This included unsuccessful complaints to East Sussex County Council, police and the regulatory agency for social workers," she said. After their child was placed in the care of the Englishes, the boy’s parents were forced to sell their house to pay lawyers to battle and are now relieved that they finally succeeded after the Englishes withdrew their bid to retain custody just before a court hearing.