A little boy whose mother took him to an area of Syria controlled by Islamic terrorists showed a marked and persistent interest in guns and shooting people when he returned to Britain, a family court judge has heard.
The youngster, who is nearing his third birthday, became over-excited at the suggestion of guns and ran around mimicking shooting, a social worker told Ms Justice Russell.
Detail of the little boy’s behaviour has emerged in a ruling by Ms Justice Russell following a family court hearing in London.
Local authority social services bosses with responsibility for the youngster’s welfare want a family court judge to make decisions about his long-term future.
Ms Justice Russell said she had been asked to consider a number of preliminary issues – and heard evidence about the little boy – at a private hearing earlier this year.
The judge said the youngster could not be identified.
She said the boy had been taken to Syria by his mother in late 2014 – when he was about 14 months old.
The pair had stayed in Raqqa, an area controlled by so-called Islamic State – which is also known as Daesh – for about three months.
In early 2015 the woman had taken the boy to Turkey – then been deported back to Britain.
Ms Justice Russell said the woman had been arrested and subsequently jailed after being convicted of terrorism offences.
The little boy had been placed with foster carers pending decisions about his long-term future.
“When (the woman) took (the little boy) to Syria she did so intending to join Daesh as part of the war against the Syrian state; at best she was reckless as to the safety and well-being of her son,” said Ms Justice Russell, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, in her ruling.
“The court heard oral evidence from her that Raqqa was bombed and she had pictures in her possession of the results of bombing with smoke rising from nearby buildings.
“She accepted that she and the other women and children in the house she and (the little boy) were living in were affected by the bombing had had to seek shelter; she was, she said, panicked, frightened and scared. She thought she might be killed and (the little boy) too.”
Ms Justice Russell added: “There was some evidence before the court that on his return, and subsequently, (the little boy) displayed signs of having been emotionally disturbed; his language and his ability to communicate were noticeably delayed and he has shown a marked and persistent interest in guns and ‘shooting people’.
“The court heard from his social worker about this and from the doctor who undertook the initial child protection examination.”
The woman had denied that the little boy had suffered “any ill effects” and said any distress he might have displayed was a result of him being taken from her care.
But Ms Justice Russell went on: “The evidence of the social worker is that (the little boy) is all too aware of what a gun is and becomes over-excited by the suggestion of guns and shooting, and runs around mimicking shooting and makes noises of gunfire.”
The judge said she had heard submissions from a number of lawyers, including barristers Deirdre Fottrell QC and Dermot Casey, who represented the local authority, and barristers Elizabeth Isaacs QC and Patrick Wainwright who represented the woman.