Saturday 20 December 2014

Mum admits manslaughter of only son (8) at their home

Anne Sharkey and Alan O'Keeffe

Published 19/03/2014 | 02:30

Anthony Ward, whose mother Diane Ward (45), of Harrison Place, Charleville, Co Cork, yesterday pleaded guilty to his manslaughter
Anthony Ward, whose mother Diane Ward (45), of Harrison Place, Charleville, Co Cork, yesterday pleaded guilty to his manslaughter

A WOMAN has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her eight-year-old son.

Diane Ward (45), of Harrison Place, Charleville, Co Cork, will be sentenced next Monday to allow time for psychiatric evidence to be given to the court.

Ward appeared at the Central Criminal Court yesterday where she pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty of the manslaughter of her only son Anthony at their home on September 3, 2012. The court heard that her plea to manslaughter was accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, told the court that "psychiatric evidence is not available on today's date" and asked that sentencing take place next week to allow time for evidence to be provided.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said that sentencing would take place next Monday.

A Cork coroner's court was told in December 2012 that Anthony died of asphyxia due to neck compression. His body was found in his bed after Ms Ward contacted relatives.

The inquest was adjourned pending criminal proceedings. Anthony had been due to start second class in the local school on the week that he died.

At an earlier sitting of Limerick District Court some weeks after the boy's death, when Ms Ward appeared via video-link, her solicitor told the court that legal aid would be needed for one senior counsel and a junior counsel.

Three days after her son died, she had appeared before the district court when her solicitor said she did not want to be remanded to the Central Mental Hospital, as had been requested by the State.

Det Sgt Michael Corbett gave evidence to the district court sitting of arresting Ms Ward at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on the day after Anthony's death and charging her with her son's murder.

CONSULTANTS

Supt Pat McCarthy said Ms Ward had been seen by consultants after Anthony's death, including Dr Eugene Cassidy.

The court heard that Dr Cassidy had consulted with Dr Harry Kennedy of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).

Supt McCarthy asked that Ms Ward be remanded to the Dochas Centre – the women's prison in Mountjoy – which, he said, would allow her to be admitted to the CMH, where a bed is available for her.

However, Mr Cagney said Ms Ward "is unhappy to be remanded in that fashion" and did not want to go to the CMH.

The district justice Eugene O'Kelly ordered that Ms Ward be remanded to the Dochas Centre, which he said was the "most appropriate centre at this stage". He also ordered that a consultant forensic psychiatrist examine Ms Ward.

Irish Independent

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