Council support worker who sold adopted child’s address spared jail
PUBLISHED: 07:33 07 June 2017 | UPDATED: 07:57 07 June 2017
A Weston-super-Mare care worker who abused the trust of an adopted child’s family by targeting the little girl’s vulnerable birth mother to ask for £2,000 in return for her daughter’s new address has been spared jail.
The child’s mother had struggled with drug abuse and her daughter was adopted aged two. Her mother made some postal contact via social services but did not know where her daughter lived, as there were fears she may be abducted.
Androulla Farr, of Brompton Road in West Wick, was a family support worker for North Somerset Council and had supported the birth mother.
In 2006, Farr made an unscheduled visit to the mother’s house, and suggested she could reveal the name of her daughter’s new parents and their address, if her birth mother paid her £2,000.
Prosecuting Mary Cowe said: “The defendant knew losing her daughter had broken her heart; she knew she was vulnerable.”
Farr, aged 50, stopped working for the council in 2006. It was not until six years later the family became aware the birth mother knew their address, when she wrote them a letter saying she would be in their area.
Cowe said: “Her parents were so concerned they made what they describe as a life-changing decision and re-located.”
Farr previously pleaded guilty to corruptly receiving money in exchange for revealing the location of an adopted child to someone who was not allowed to know and was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday).
Judge William Hart sentenced her to 16 months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He ordered Farr to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and placed a curfew on her, which means she can not leave her house from 9pm-6am for four months.
Mitigating Charles Row told the court Farr is ‘desperately sorry’ and spoke of her ‘difficult childhood’.
He said she found her role at the council ‘extremely stressful’ and as a result began to ‘spend frivolously’, racking up £22,000 of debts which she kept secret from her family.
Despite telling the girl’s birth mother she wanted the money for a holiday to the Dominican Republic – which she went on in 2006 – Farr told police she used the money to pay debts.
Judge Hart said Farr abused the trust of her employers, the adoptive family and the vulnerable birth mother.
He added: “That you told her you would pass on the address of her daughter in exchange for money is low; one could almost understand it if you had done it out of a sense of empathy for her, even if misplaced, but to do it for payment is low indeed.”
An NSPCC spokesman for the South West told the Mercury: “This was an extremely worrying case in which Farr abused her position of trust, potentially putting a child at risk, purely for financial gain.
“Farr’s selfish and reckless behaviour clearly caused enormous distress and upheaval to the girl involved and her adopted family.
“Care is a vital part of our child protection system and helps children and young people overcome difficult early life experiences, giving them the best chance in life.”
Anyone with concerns about the welfare of a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Weston Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.