By Dave Andrusko
You wouldn’t think—or at least I didn’t think—testimony in the case of grievously ill Alfie Evans could get any more emotional, any more heartrending. But today’s seventh and final day in a hearing to decide the fate of Tom Evans’ and Kate James’ 20-month-old son before Justice Hayden, characterized by tears, passion, and incredible eloquence, proved me wrong.
Liverpool Echo reporter Tom Belger’s almost minute-by-minute updates truly gives the reader a sense of being in the courtroom.
Mr. Evans and his partner are trying desperately to persuade Justice Hayden that they should be allowed to take Alfie to hospitals first in Rome and perhaps to Germany. The Alder Hey hospital staff, its attorney, and the woman appointed to represent Alfie’s “best interests” (who cannot be identified for legal reasons)—his “Child’s Guardian”—believe Alfie is terminal and unresponsive and that it serves no purpose to maintain him on the ventilator he has been on since May, let alone take him overseas.
But as Belger reported in his story about today’s hearing
Mr. Evans, who represented himself during the seven-day hearing at Liverpool civil and family court, said: “I feel so blessed to have Alfie here. It was meant to be to have Alfie as my son.
“Just the name Alfie Evans is a name that is going to be remembered around the world.
“One day we hope and believe we can take him to a swimming pool, he might not be able to swim but he will have the ability to experience the water.
“We’re not in denial. We see that our child has a life.
“Alfie is not just a child, he is our child. He is a child of God.”
As we noted in prior stories, the kindness and empathy of Justice Hayden leaps off the page of Belger’s updates. He helped Evans, representing the couple although not himself a lawyer, pose questions to witnesses and in some cases asked them himself.
Justice Hayden no doubt knew that whatever the outcome, justice could not be served if Evans and James were not able to make the best case for their child. I’ll offer a few samples in a moment.
But first Mr. Evans, who was his own best witness and advocate. For example he asked of the Child Advocate
if it is professional to make a declaration about a child after just 20 minutes with him.
He asks if she approached Alfie’s room in an appropriate way, “do you think you went in that room and took it all in?
“You don’t remember much from my perspective.”
He says he can’t believe she can’t remember there was an Everton scarf on his bed and says that is “mortifying.”
“There were at least 20 teddy bears on his bed. How could you not pick up on all this?”
He asks her to put medical evidence aside: “What does Alfie show to you to convince him he has no life?”
In the summary phase, Evans said
“We don’t want a timescale on Alfie’s head”
“We believe it’s more than likely Germany will give us the better outcome.
“We believe it is possible to give Alfie more quality of life than he’s got now.”
Mr. Evans says he wants further tests on the drugs Alfie has to see if they are taking full effect.
After exploring options in Italy and Germany he says they will consider where Alfie is then.
“If he does not present any change in a certain amount of time, we will bring Alfie home and to see the end of his days where he started it.
He says he will “take it on the chin” if there is no more to be done, but he believes Alfie is telling them he is leading his own path.
“We have always stuck by him, we’ve never written him off.”
Back to the help provided by Justice Hayden. There is this exchange with the Child Guardian who says
“I think everyone around Alfie has tried to give him as much dignity as they can.
“Equally Alfie can’t experience the world around him. He can’t see, he can’t hear, he can’t feel his parents.
“He can’t feel the love that is in that room for him.
“I have no doubt there is an immense amount of love in that room for him.”
Mr. Justice Hayden points out that just because someone is blind or deaf, it does not mean that their life has no dignity.
He says this is a view held by many countries across the world and it happens to be shared by Alfie’s family.
Of Mr. Evans himself, Justice Hayden
paid tribute to the little boy’s dad for the way he presented his case, saying: “It bears repeating that Alfie could have had no more eloquent, more effective advocate in this case.”
There is so much more. I hope you will take the time to read Belger’s superb updates.
The judge will deliver his judgement later this month.