An Orihuela grandmum has won her custody battle over her four-year-old granddaughter, who was left orphaned after her father murdered her mother two years ago. Maruja Cuenca, 63, had been caring for Mari Carmen since the tot’s mother, Maruja’s daughter, was killed by her violent husband, who is now in jail – but the social services placed her in foster care in August.

Maruja has spent the last few months trying to gather as much evidence as possible to show how well she cares for her granddaughter and collecting character references, but was fighting a losing battle against the authorities in Orihuela, until a higher court in Alicante has agreed to let Mari go home with Maruja.

The judge considered it ‘proven’ that the little girl was ‘suffering emotionally’ through being separated from her grandmother, and that the child ‘did not suffer any psychological damage’ whilst living with her late mother’s mother.

This lack of risk to her wellbeing meant her being taken away and placed in foster care ‘in such a drastic manner’ was ‘not necessary’, according to the judge’s verdict. Alicante prosecutors strongly criticised the action of Orihuela social services, who refused to comment on the verdict.

The grandmother and child were reunited on Friday, when after school, Mari Carmen was taken straight back to her grandmother’s home in Orihuela.

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