Injustice Continues as Meah Shearim Mother is Indicted

17

chaimkeh-smallThe injustice continues. Today, an indictment was served in the Yerushalayim District Court against Mrs. Yenty Markowitz, the Meah Shearim mother unfairly accused of starving her three-year-old child Chaimkeh over a period of two years. Chaimkeh was discharged last Friday from Hadassah Ein Kerem to the care of relatives.

Throughout the saga, Yenty and the Toldos Aharon kehillah have maintained her innocence, and have  insisted that her child suffers from multiple illnesses which interfere with his eating.

The way she was treated from the time of her arrest is a separate issue that will hopefully be addressed in the near future.

Here are some of the details of this case that beg for answers or explanations:

• The expectant mother was placed in a cell with an Arab woman, a convicted murderer, who was constantly threatening to kill her.

• She was not given appropriate food, and had almost nothing for three days.

• The jail personnel showed her food sent to her by her mother – and then tossed it in the garbage in front of her eyes.

• The jail personnel ensured that she would not be able to sleep a wink by using strong lights and creating noise around her cell constantly.

• There was no bedding in her cell, forcing her to sleep on the concrete floor with no cushion or blanket.

• The jail personnel told her that her baby was dead.

• She was never informed that the city of Yerushalayim was up in arms in protest over her imprisonment.

• She was not allowed a change of clothing during the entire period of her incarceration.

• Her eyes became infected, because they would give her the lotion required for her contact lenses.

• She was locked away for 10 days – with no one being permitted to visit her. Not family and not lawyers.

• It broke the mother’s heart to see her baby starving and she couldn’t bring herself to eat anything whenever she was in the hospital.

• A number of other people who had children in the same ward of the hospital have come forward with signed statements saying how they watched this mother’s utter devotion, commitment and care for this child. Several hospital volunteers have given written statements supporting the mother 100%.

• The child hasn’t left the hospital for the past seven months. Didn’t the nurses and doctors notice that he was starving? Where were they all this time? Why didn’t they do something about it?

• Why did so much time pass before suspicions emerged that the problem has to do with the mother and not with the child? What sort of needless and damaging treatments did he undergo? What did the hospital’s social work department do about the case? Was there an effort to handle this grave matter in cooperation with the community?

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}

17 COMMENTS

  1. “Throughout the saga, Yenty and the Toldos Aharon kehillah have maintained her innocence, and have insisted that her child suffers from multiple illnesses which interfere with his eating.”

    Which illnesses would that be? Please elaborate.
    The medical report says that nothing could be found.

  2. The horrible conditions of her incarceration must be protested and brought to the light of day. The brutal imprisonment of innocent yidden in Israeli prisons is known to be worse than Arab terrorists. WHY? This is an issue to address, Ofir Gamliel is not permitted to visited his injured son in hospital without being put in hand and feet cuffs. Let us raise our voices righteously for ALL THESE INNOCENT PRISONERS.

    “Yenty and the Toldos Aharon kehillah have maintained her innocence” – are they mental health professionals?

  3. Ruth, not everyone is as naive as you are. Doctors can and have resorted to subterfuge in order to protect themselves, especially in Israel, land of the unauthorized autopsies, home of kidnapped and sold Yemenite children. Do yourself a favor and look up on the web M.A.M.A. – Mothers Against Munchausen-by-proxy Allegations.

  4. What is the injustice? She got the same treatment as all prisoners. Terrible! According to the interview she herslf gave, she complained of being together with the Talibanit [that’s Hebrew for the Burka woman] and never mentioned an arab. The only complaint that’s justified is why the police have to constintly lie to all prisoners. But again, being that they do this to everyone, then she didn’t get worse treatment than anyone.
    This is another article that doesn’t care for the child. It’s also a sorry excuse to condone the insane riots perptrated by her people.

  5. The headline is laughable. Injustices continue? You mean to indict somebody on suspicion of attempted murder is an injustice? Tell me, if somebody fired 3 bullets into the office of the Eida, and nobody was hurt, and they arrested this person and put him in a cell which happened to have an Arab in it, would that also be an injustice? Would the Eida be rioting over it?

  6. Precisly. They were only repeating what the doctors were surmising and disallowed any oral feedings.

    Thank G-d you have never dealt with certain hospitals when they don’t come up with a diagnosis and take it very personally, be it emotionally or due to finacnial issues, when a request for transfer is initiated. Tov Shebirofim Li’gehennom.
    May Hasehem bless all those doctors, and there are, who have the interests of the patient first and formost.

  7. I dont understand.The child is doing better since being separated from his mother, right?He’s being released from the hospital and put up with relatives.Isn’t that enough evidence against the mother?

  8. A few questions to all the people who seem to know better than Rebbetzin Yocheved Grossman, Rav Dovid Soloveitchik and the other people who have called this the blood libel it is:

    1- If the mother suspected of starving her child was caught on hidden camera, why didn’t hospital officials act immediately, to prevent her from doing so repeatedly at the expense of the patient?

    2- If she was indeed deemed a danger to the child, why didn’t the hospital seek legal intervention to obtain a restraining order, distancing her from her son rather than permitting his condition to deteriorate?

    3- Why wasn’t the hospital staff taking corrective action for the patient when the mother was not present and how can it be that the hospital staff operating 24/7 was not seeing the continued deterioration in the toddler’s condition?

    4- Assuming the mother has Munchausen by proxy, why did the hospital and social workers fail to notify the family, her husband, towards awareness and seeking assistance for her?

    5- Assuming the mother is not fit, inflicted with some illness, perhaps Munchausen by proxy, why was she not given appropriate treatment but instead, thrown in jail? Why did state social workers cooperate with police against the interest of the mother and possibly her child?

    6- Why were efforts by askanim beginning on 17 Tammuz, before the media blitz, ignored by police and the hospital? The askanim said if the mother is indeed ill, why isn’t she being referred for care instead of imprisoned?

    Rabbonim also question where all the liberals are hiding, explaining that if this case involved a secular/chiloni family, the feminists and human rights activists at the very least would be inundating the High Court, but here, when a devoted mother and wife is chareidi, the silence is deafening and the champions of justice are nowhere to be found.

    On the same line, the Rabbonim question the lack of patient privacy, with authorities failing to explain just how the x-ray of the ’starved child’ appeared in all the Israeli media.

    And if they suspected wrong-doing or a problem with the mother, why weren’t rabbonim contacted to intervene?

  9. Here are the answers to your questions, again, in case you did not read them the last time.

    Here are the sources from which I gathered the information (most of the sources were published by the pro-mother-side)

    The medical report alone (p. 3 only):
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_JDAk9mug7bI/SmhtqtZeNaI/AAAAAAAAADY/rkv4T1GKbfs/s1600-h/%C3%97%C5%BE%C3%97%C2%A1%C3%97%C5%BE%C3%97%C5%A1+%C3%97%E2%80%98%C3%97%E2%84%A2%C3%97%C2%AA+%C3%97%E2%80%9D%C3%97%E2%80%94%C3%97%E2%80%A2%C3%97%C5%93%C3%97%E2%84%A2%C3%97%EF%BF%BD.jpg
    and here you find a possibility to download the brochure (where you find the same medical report)
    http://www.vosizneias.com/35859/2009/07/29/jerusalem-charedim-distribute-500000-blood-libel-booklets-over-child-starving-mom/

    If you don’t know to read words like gastro-jejunostomy in hebrew, how can I help you????

    Now your question:

    1) this question is full of hypocrisy.
    You saw what happened when the hospital/social services/prosecution/police intervened. (social security office ransacked, death threats to social security and hospital staff, demonstrations in front of hospital and private homes of doctor(s), phone calls to their family members, policemen pelted with stones when they wanted to see the mother at her home where she was at house arrest, etc).
    So the reactions that took place IN REALITY sufficiently justify that you want to be sure about what you do before you act.

    2) The hospital did seek legal/social welfare intervention to obtain a restraining order. The arrest was a decision by the prosecutor’s office based on the evidence they had seen and had nothing to do with the hospital (hospital refused to have her arrested on their grounds)

    If you mean: why did it take them so long to see that it was the mother?
    I suppose: because they were unsuspecting.
    Now you can say that this is a systematical error. In order to combat/eliminate the risk “Munchhausey by proxy” you should keep the mother far from the child right from the beginning and never trust any mother.
    Do you really want this to become a general rule in pediatric hospital? Should 99,9% of childdren and mothers suffer because of 1 in 1000 (or even less) mothers who suffer from Munchhausen by proxy? This is slightly disproportionate, so I think it is still justified to apply “trust” as a general rule, even if it can endanger victims of Munchhausen by proxy.

    3) According to the interview with Dr. Birnbaum published here
    http://www.kikar.net/article.php?id=2694
    (and perhaps also in the last Mishpacha magazine), they did take corrective action, when the mother was not there: when all attempts at feeding the child had failed and he was between life and death, they started, very carefully, feeding him by night, when the mother was not there. They started with minute quantities, since they expected negative reactions (as was the case every time they tried feeding him at daytime), but it went well: suddenly, the child could sleep, was not nervous any more, etc.
    In this interview, Dr. Birnbaum says they had a lot of trust in the mother (at the beginning), they let her take temperature, listened to her reports, etc.
    When she reported that he was vomiting where no vomiting was possible, they started to suspect something.

    Later they fed the child by night, made sure nothing could come out of the child, hung an empty bag on the tube. What happened? Suddenly the bag contained a white liquid. Where did it come from? Obviously someone had put it there. They gave the bag to the police. (They found more bags with the mother).

    4) Up to now the whole family (and you yourself also) apparently refuse to aknowledge that she has Munchhausen by proxy. So what do you want to do???? Read the pro-mother blogs and comments and brochures and wallposters: they all say that she is an Eshet Chayil, an examplary mother, no-one believes she could harm her child!
    Is this enough evidence to answer your question?

    5) Why was the mother thrown in jail:
    a) It seems that she badly harmed her child and that police/prosecutors had enough evidence to put her in jail for this.
    b) Perhaps it would have been preferable to seek another solution, but it seems that the mother and her immediate surroundings were not very cooperative (refusal for psychological testing, no declarations (which is her good right), threats from the surroundings of the family, etc…).
    And once again: the reactions after the arrest certainly contributed to lengthen the arrest (and also showed how justified it was, because there really was imminent danger)
    6) Why isn’t she referred for (psychological) care?
    This question is also hypocritical, since she herself refused psychological examination, and Rabbonim and Askanim apparently encouraged her to do so.

    7) patient privacy:
    As I mentionned earlier, the pro-mother side are the first to violate patient privacy.
    I don’t know of any x-ray published. One newspaper published a black-and white photo of the starved child. The pro-mother blogspot and the pro-mother-brochure published the same picture in colour. So I suppose that the pro-mother side is in posession of the picture. So it would be logical to conclude that they leaked it to the newspaper.

    I find particular hypocrisy in this question, because the pro-mother side always argued that the fact that the video was not released to the public proved it did not exist. (we will only believe it once we have seen the video evidence)…

  10. Why is the Japaneses prison any worse than the Isreali prisn?
    Why should th e3 Bochurim in Japan be transfered to an Isreali prison? Will it be any better?

  11. Nuff Said, all those questions are silly.

    #1-#2, they did, and called the police as soon as they were sure of what she was doing.

    #3, The mother was interfering with care the whole time the child was there, but hospital didn’t know about it right away. The last thing a hospital would suspect is that the mother who brought him in is meddling with the machines.

    #4-#5-#6, The hospital’s job was to protect and cure the child. The mother was not their patient. Yes, the mother may need help, but in all societies, a mentally ill person who is a danger is supervised by the court system which has the power to commit her to a facility, possibly under armed guard, or to imprison if she is found sane, or to do whatever is necessary. The mother is suspected of committing a serious crime. Therefore she must be dealt with by the authorities. True, she may have an excuse that she is sick, and the courts will certainly deal with that and evaluate if it is true, but that is not the first step in the process. That comes later.

    Again, if some guy was shooting on the street, and he was tackled and prevented from killing anybody, and his mother came out yelling that he is sick, would you send him home that day?

    He will obviously be kept under total guard either in jail or in a mental hospital until the court system is absolutely sure that he really is sick and if so is being treated for his condition and can safely be back on the streets. It might take a few years until he can come back home. He also may be a regular criminal who needs to spend years in jail.

    You can’t be serious here. All civilized countries handle allegations of child abuse very seriously and especially if it was attempted murder. There is no chiddush here, it is just hatred for the medinah which makes it seem like somehow standard protocol shouldn’t be followed here.

  12. All you naive or anti-chareidi commenters:

    Here’s one story out of many from M.A.M.A. (Mothers Against Monchhausen-by-proxy Allegations) reprinted fron The London Evening Standard.

    LIES, DECEPTION AND THE DOCTOR WHO TRAPPED ME

    BY DAVID COHEN

    The cunning ploy to entrap Justine Durkin and prove that she was a potential
    child murderer began with a phone call. ‘Justine,’ said the consultant
    paediatrician at the other end of the line, his voice caring but grim, ‘I’m
    afraid tests show your daughter might have a life-threatening disorder. You
    need to bring her in for 24-hour monitoring. I’ve booked a bed.’

    At that moment, the world of Justine Durkin, then a bubbly 23-year-old
    mother, imploded. Weeping uncontrollably, she packed her bags and headed
    into the hands of the doctors she hoped could save her sickly two-year-old
    daughter, Rosemary, who suffered from various unexplained ailments,
    including violent nocturnal coughing fits.

    Waiting for her at the hospital was the eminent and then highly regarded
    consultant paediatrician, Professor David Southall. But, as she would
    discover – and as he would later testify in the family court – he was not
    being entirely honest with her. There were, in fact, no tests that showed a
    ‘life-threatening disorder’. It was all an extraordinary and elaborate con –
    cynical and cruel if it were to fail, brilliant perhaps if it were to
    succeed – dreamed up by Professor Southall to catch Justine attempting to
    harm or smother her child through secret video surveillance, and to prove
    his belief that Justine was a potential child murderer.

    Totally unaware that Professor Southall was lying to her, Justine and
    Rosemary were shown into a carpeted private ward that was to be their home
    for the next five days. What Justine saw was monitoring equipment and a
    bed – Rosemary would be confined to it and attached to the monitors 24 hours
    a day – a second bed for herself, a television, and a chair.

    But what she couldn’t see were the hidden video cameras that would secretly
    record her every word and action for the next 120 hours. For Southall had a
    plan: he intended to use this video-tape evidence to prove that she suffered
    from a condition called Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, a mysterious
    psychological ailment that involves harming – even killing – one’s child to
    attract attention to oneself.

    But when, after two days in the room, no incriminating evidence had been
    obtained, Professor Southall decided to up the ante. What he did next,
    Justine says, defies belief. Her complaint against Professor Southall is the
    subject of an upcoming public hearing by the General Medical Council into
    his purportedly ‘unethical’ behaviour.

    It spells more bad news for the professor who, this week, suffered a
    humiliating hammer-blow to his reputation when the GMC found him guilty of
    serious professional misconduct in accusing the husband of solicitor Sally
    Clark of murdering two of their baby sons. Professor Southall had made his
    diagnosis after watching a TV programme about the case, without having had
    any medical involvement with the Clarks whatsoever.

    The GMC – ruling that Professor Southall had abused his position and
    condemning his behaviour as ‘inappropriate, irresponsible and misleading’ –
    will deliver its verdict when it reconvenes in August. The panel has the
    power to strike off the paediatrician, although it is thought more likely to
    issue a public admonishment or suspend his registration.

    Anything short of being stuck off, however, will trigger a purported eight
    more GMC complaints against Professor Southall, of which Justine’s case is
    one. Some of the complainants hope to expose just how ‘inappropriate,
    irresponsible and misleading’ the paediatrician’s behaviour has consistently
    been, ruining their lives, and those of their families, in what they say are
    strikingly similar gross abuses of power.

    They argue that Southall’s behaviour in the Clark case was not a one-off,
    but evidence of a trend in which Southall would stop at nothing to prove he
    is right. (To this day, Professor Southall clings to his view that Stephen
    Clark is a killer.)

    But in Justine’s case, although he refused to see it, the evidence that he
    had got it wrong was staring him in the face. After two days of covert video
    surveillance at the University Hospital in North Staffordshire, he had
    nothing to show for it. So what did he do?

    ‘He called me out of the ward,’ recalls Justine, 34, speaking exclusively to
    the Evening Standard from her GBP 500,000 18th-century farmhouse set in
    three acres of verdant Nottinghamshire countryside. ‘He sat me down, and
    told me that the word from Doncaster Hospital where Rosemary had been
    treated before being referred was that there did not seem to be anything
    wrong with Rosemary and that they thought I had been fabricating her
    illness.

    ‘Southall was quick to assure me that he believed me, but he said they would
    need proof she was ill soon, because there was pressure on him for the use
    of facilities and that unless something happened quickly, it would be hard
    to counter the view that I was making it up. I did not realize it, but he
    was trying to entrap me. He wanted to goad me into manufacturing proof of
    her illness. He thought by putting that pressure on me, I would try to
    smother or harm Rosemary when no one was looking.’

    This extraordinary testimony – recounting entrapment techniques that even
    police officers would struggle to justify – is not even disputed by
    Professor Southall.

    One week after the covert video surveillance ended, and without any concrete
    evidence of mistreatment, two social workers, armed with a written
    accusation of Munchausen’s from Professor Southall, came to remove
    two-year-old Rosemary from Justine’s care. They also took her son, Joseph,
    just four years old. At the time, Justine was living with her parents in
    Wroot, a small village in South Yorkshire, having recently become divorced
    from her husband, Nick Twiss, who was then a serving police officer in the
    North Staffordshire police.

    A moment earlier, during our interview this week, she had been telling me
    that she has become ‘a tough old broad’ and that ‘this lady don’t ——‘, but
    now, as she recalls the moment Justine was taken, her eyes redden, her face
    collapses, and tears stream down her cheeks.

    ‘Something in me died right there,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t make sense of what
    was happening. One day I’m told my daughter has a life-threatening illness,
    the next that I’m making it all up. Suddenly, these two social workers came
    to the door. They told me there had been a secret child-protection
    conference and that, on the advice of Southall, my children were to be taken
    away. They said they had already found foster parents.

    ‘At first, I resisted. I refused to let them take her, but they said they
    would call the police. I said, please, at least let me be the one to hand
    her over, to settle her in.’

    For 11 months, until the case came to court, Justine’s children lived with
    their foster parents. Justine got to see them for two hours a week, but
    always with someone else there.

    Then, in July 1994, came the court case heard in the family division. At
    issue was nothing less than whether Justine would get her children back. For
    the first time, she got to see the extent of the evidence for Munchausen’s
    against her.

    Although we cannot divulge what evidence was given in court, the outcome was
    that the judge totally quashed Professor Southall’s claim of Munchausen’s as
    entirely unsubstantiated. Despite Justine being exonerated, the judge
    subsequently released the children into the care of their father. Justine
    would be able to visit her children under a supervision order, with the
    local authority acting as umpire between the parents should disagreement
    arise.

    Justine was devastated. Havingbeing subjected to what she believes is the
    modern equivalent of a medieval witch-hunt, and despite being found not
    guilty of anything remotely to do with harming her daughter, she had wound
    up losing her children to their father who lived two hours away.

    For years, she was allowed only limited contact with her children. She was
    confined, at first, to supervised contact of six hours a week, which
    developed over time to unsupervised weekends.

    Justine was so shaken by what had happened that later, when she subsequently
    fell pregnant with her second husband, she had an abortion because she was
    terrified they would take the baby from her at birth.

    ‘Once you have been accused of Munchausen’s, once it’s on your notes, even
    if you’ve been cleared, you never know what they will do to you,’ she says.
    Again the tears stream. ‘That still hurts, to think I let Southall affect me
    to that extent.’

    But the cloud has a silver lining. Firstly, Justine fell pregnant a fourth
    time, and this time went ahead with the pregnancy, giving birth to Aidan,
    who is now six. And even more to the point – and this makes her beam with
    happiness – two years ago Rosemary came to live with her after pleading with
    her father.

    While we are talking, Rosemary, now 13, who is the spitting image of her
    mum, wanders in and sits on Justine’s lap. Soon, both of them are in tears.

    ‘We have so much time to make up,’ says Rosemary, gulping between sobs.
    ‘That man, Southall, has a lot to answer for. He took my Mum away. I think
    he should get his head sorted out. I don’t mean to sound nasty, but every
    child needs their Mum. I’d like to meet him face to face and ask him: why
    did you do this? Why did you deprive me of my mother? He doesn’t know how
    much pain he’s put people through. It seems he’ll do anything just to be
    proved right. I hope he gets sent to prison. I want everyone to know what he
    did – not just to us – but other families too.’

  13. All you naive or anti-chareidi commenters:

    Here’s one story out of many from M.A.M.A. (Mothers Against Monchhausen-by-proxy Allegations) reprinted fron The London Evening Standard.

    LIES, DECEPTION AND THE DOCTOR WHO TRAPPED ME

    BY DAVID COHEN

    The cunning ploy to entrap Justine Durkin and prove that she was a potential child murderer began with a phone call. ‘Justine,’ said the consultant paediatrician at the other end of the line, his voice caring but grim, ‘I’m
    afraid tests show your daughter might have a life-threatening disorder. You need to bring her in for 24-hour monitoring. I’ve booked a bed.’

    At that moment, the world of Justine Durkin, then a bubbly 23-year-old mother, imploded. Weeping uncontrollably, she packed her bags and headed into the hands of the doctors she hoped could save her sickly two-year-old daughter, Rosemary, who suffered from various unexplained ailments, including violent nocturnal coughing fits.

    Waiting for her at the hospital was the eminent and then highly regarded consultant paediatrician, Professor David Southall. But, as she would discover – and as he would later testify in the family court – he was not being entirely honest with her. There were, in fact, no tests that showed a ‘life-threatening disorder’. It was all an extraordinary and elaborate con – cynical and cruel if it were to fail, brilliant perhaps if it were to succeed – dreamed up by Professor Southall to catch Justine attempting to harm or smother her child through secret video surveillance, and to prove his belief that Justine was a potential child murderer.

    Totally unaware that Professor Southall was lying to her, Justine and Rosemary were shown into a carpeted private ward that was to be their home for the next five days. What Justine saw was monitoring equipment and a
    bed – Rosemary would be confined to it and attached to the monitors 24 hours a day – a second bed for herself, a television, and a chair.

    But what she couldn’t see were the hidden video cameras that would secretly record her every word and action for the next 120 hours. For Southall had a plan: he intended to use this video-tape evidence to prove that she suffered from a condition called Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, a mysterious psychological ailment that involves harming – even killing – one’s child to attract attention to oneself.

    But when, after two days in the room, no incriminating evidence had been obtained, Professor Southall decided to up the ante. What he did next, Justine says, defies belief. Her complaint against Professor Southall is the
    subject of an upcoming public hearing by the General Medical Council into his purportedly ‘unethical’ behaviour.

    It spells more bad news for the professor who, this week, suffered a humiliating hammer-blow to his reputation when the GMC found him guilty of serious professional misconduct in accusing the husband of solicitor Sally
    Clark of murdering two of their baby sons. Professor Southall had made his diagnosis after watching a TV programme about the case, without having had any medical involvement with the Clarks whatsoever.

    The GMC – ruling that Professor Southall had abused his position and condemning his behaviour as ‘inappropriate, irresponsible and misleading’ – will deliver its verdict when it reconvenes in August. The panel has the power to strike off the paediatrician, although it is thought more likely to issue a public admonishment or suspend his registration.

    Anything short of being stuck off, however, will trigger a purported eight more GMC complaints against Professor Southall, of which Justine’s case is one. Some of the complainants hope to expose just how ‘inappropriate,irresponsible and misleading’ the paediatrician’s behaviour has consistently been, ruining their lives, and those of their families, in what they say are
    strikingly similar gross abuses of power.

    They argue that Southall’s behaviour in the Clark case was not a one-off, but evidence of a trend in which Southall would stop at nothing to prove he is right. (To this day, Professor Southall clings to his view that Stephen Clark is a killer.)

    But in Justine’s case, although he refused to see it, the evidence that he had got it wrong was staring him in the face. After two days of covert video surveillance at the University Hospital in North Staffordshire, he had
    nothing to show for it. So what did he do?

    ‘He called me out of the ward,’ recalls Justine, 34, speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard from her GBP 500,000 18th-century farmhouse set in three acres of verdant Nottinghamshire countryside. ‘He sat me down, and told me that the word from Doncaster Hospital where Rosemary had been
    treated before being referred was that there did not seem to be anything wrong with Rosemary and that they thought I had been fabricating her illness.

    ‘Southall was quick to assure me that he believed me, but he said they would need proof she was ill soon, because there was pressure on him for the use of facilities and that unless something happened quickly, it would be hard to counter the view that I was making it up. I did not realize it, but he was trying to entrap me. He wanted to goad me into manufacturing proof of her illness. He thought by putting that pressure on me, I would try to
    smother or harm Rosemary when no one was looking.’

    This extraordinary testimony – recounting entrapment techniques that even police officers would struggle to justify – is not even disputed by Professor Southall.

    One week after the covert video surveillance ended, and without any concrete evidence of mistreatment, two social workers, armed with a written accusation of Munchausen’s from Professor Southall, came to remove two-year-old Rosemary from Justine’s care. They also took her son, Joseph, just four years old. At the time, Justine was living with her parents in Wroot, a small village in South Yorkshire, having recently become divorced from her husband, Nick Twiss, who was then a serving police officer in the North Staffordshire police.

    A moment earlier, during our interview this week, she had been telling me that she has become ‘a tough old broad’ and that ‘this lady don’t ——’, but now, as she recalls the moment Justine was taken, her eyes redden, her face
    collapses, and tears stream down her cheeks.

    ‘Something in me died right there,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. One day I’m told my daughter has a life-threatening illness, the next that I’m making it all up. Suddenly, these two social workers came to the door. They told me there had been a secret child-protection conference and that, on the advice of Southall, my children were to be taken away. They said they had already found foster parents.

    ‘At first, I resisted. I refused to let them take her, but they said they would call the police. I said, please, at least let me be the one to hand her over, to settle her in.’

    For 11 months, until the case came to court, Justine’s children lived with their foster parents. Justine got to see them for two hours a week, but always with someone else there.

    Then, in July 1994, came the court case heard in the family division. At issue was nothing less than whether Justine would get her children back. For the first time, she got to see the extent of the evidence for Munchausen’s
    against her.

    Although we cannot divulge what evidence was given in court, the outcome was that the judge totally quashed Professor Southall’s claim of Munchausen’s as entirely unsubstantiated. Despite Justine being exonerated, the judge
    subsequently released the children into the care of their father. Justine would be able to visit her children under a supervision order, with the local authority acting as umpire between the parents should disagreement arise.

    Justine was devastated. Havingbeing subjected to what she believes is the modern equivalent of a medieval witch-hunt, and despite being found not guilty of anything remotely to do with harming her daughter, she had wound up losing her children to their father who lived two hours away.

    For years, she was allowed only limited contact with her children. She was confined, at first, to supervised contact of six hours a week, which developed over time to unsupervised weekends.

    Justine was so shaken by what had happened that later, when she subsequently fell pregnant with her second husband, she had an abortion because she was terrified they would take the baby from her at birth.

    ‘Once you have been accused of Munchausen’s, once it’s on your notes, even if you’ve been cleared, you never know what they will do to you,’ she says. Again the tears stream. ‘That still hurts, to think I let Southall affect me
    to that extent.’

    But the cloud has a silver lining. Firstly, Justine fell pregnant a fourth time, and this time went ahead with the pregnancy, giving birth to Aidan, who is now six. And even more to the point – and this makes her beam with
    happiness – two years ago Rosemary came to live with her after pleading with her father.

    While we are talking, Rosemary, now 13, who is the spitting image of her mum, wanders in and sits on Justine’s lap. Soon, both of them are in tears.

    ‘We have so much time to make up,’ says Rosemary, gulping between sobs. ‘That man, Southall, has a lot to answer for. He took my Mum away. I think he should get his head sorted out. I don’t mean to sound nasty, but every child needs their Mum. I’d like to meet him face to face and ask him: why did you do this? Why did you deprive me of my mother? He doesn’t know how much pain he’s put people through. It seems he’ll do anything just to be
    proved right. I hope he gets sent to prison. I want everyone to know what he did – not just to us – but other families too.’

  14. How are all these anonymous oh so knowledgeable and educated posters going to ask Mechila from this poor mother?

    Are they all going to travel to Eretz Yisrael and beg Mechila at her doorstep?

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