Saturday 10 December 2016

Children were so badly neglected 'they didn't know how to use toilet'

Sonya McLean

Published 28/02/2012 | 05:00

A MOTHER neglected her five children so badly that none of them knew how to use a toilet or wash themselves when they were taken into care.

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Two years of neglect, which began when the children were aged between two and nine, left them underfed, dirty, and suffering severe long-term psychological difficulties.

One of the children ate incessantly until he vomited, after being brought into care.

The HSE officials noted that although the mother was dressed in a warm pink top with Playboy bunny cap, her two young daughters wore only shorts and ankle socks; while the teeth of her eldest son, then aged 11, were rotten because he was forced to steal bags of sugar to eat because he was so hungry.

The children were later described as gulping down food and shoving their dinner into their mouths with their hands, while the youngest boy struggled to breathe while he ate.

Yesterday, the children's 34-year-old mother pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 10 counts of neglecting the children between May 2005 and September 2007.

Her 44-year-old husband has already been convicted of child neglect, sexual abuse and the rape of a young girl by a Central Criminal Court jury.

He has also a further conviction of sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl from the UK.

One of the man's previous convictions included the abduction of the defendant in England when she was just 14. The couple later married days after her 18th birthday.

Judge Martin Nolan said the children had been neglected in a dreadful way and he could not imagine a worse situation.

"It was a simple case of huge neglect," the judge said.

He remanded the woman on continuing bail until Thursday for sentencing.

Bullied

When taken into care, the second eldest boy, aged 10, wore trousers halfway up his legs, had no socks or underwear and there were holes in his runners.

All the children were unwashed and the girl's foster mother later reported that their hair was "a different colour blonde" after she washed it.

The eldest boy is now 15 and living in a special care unit outside of Ireland.

When he first went into care he had to live in an isolated unit for four years because he was not deemed suitable to be in the company of other children or live with a family.

His victim impact report, read in court by a guardian who has been involved in the proceedings since the children first went into care, stated: "I am the worst child in the world."

It said he had "a desperate desire to make friends" but is constantly bullied because he still soils himself.

He also has a problem with his weight because he frequently overeats.

All the foster parents reported that the children would defecate and urinate in inappropriate places, such as a bucket.

Aileen Donnelly, defending, said the accused was very much under the influence of her husband.

"Her relationship with him diminished her ability to act independently but she has since turned her life around," Ms Donnelly said.

"She was a victim and a victim who did not learn herself. Her head was turned by him and she never righted it herself."

She said her client has "expressed the upmost remorse" and is now in contact with her two older children.

The three youngest do not want to meet her.

Irish Independent

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