‘Traumatised’ girl, four, had to be taught to chew food


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The child would not speak for days and detach herself from reality by taking on the persona of “Princess Sparkle”, a court hears.

A four-year-old child did not know how to eat solid food when she was placed into foster care, a High Court judge has said.

The girl, who was brought up in an “utterly chaotic” environment, had to be taught to chew and would not speak for days, Mrs Justice Gwynneth Knowles heard.

A child psychologist said the youngster, who displayed an “unusual psychological presentation”, would detach herself from reality and take on the persona of “Princess Sparkle” – an “imaginary safe figure” – to avoid “emotional pain”.

Details of the girl’s case came to light in a written ruling published by the judge after a private hearing at London’s High Court.

The child had been at the centre of a dispute between her parents, said the judge, who made a number of decisions in relation to the girl’s welfare.

She said social services had begun separate litigation which could see the youngster permanently removed from the care of her parents.

Mrs Justice Knowles said: “[The girl’s] very experienced foster carer said she was the most traumatised child she had cared for.

“On first being placed, she would go for days without speaking and did not know how to eat solid food.

“She had to be taught how to chew food.”

The judge said the psychologist’s evidence about the girl’s dissociation into the persona of “Princess Sparkle” was “striking and persuasive”.

“Without ascribing blame to one parent or the other, there is ample evidence of the utterly chaotic environment to which [she] was exposed throughout her life by both her parents,” Mrs Justice Knowles said.

She said the girl’s parents had a “tempestuous relationship”.

The child’s father claimed he met the girl’s mother when he “engaged her services as a prostitute”, which the mother denies.

She has accused the father of being a “physically and sexually” violent drug dealer.

The girl has been placed into foster care pending decisions about her long-term future.

The child’s father wanted her to be returned to Spain where the family used to live, but the application was denied.


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