News Courts

Saturday 30 August 2014

Mum at centre of the 'worst case of child neglect' walks free from court

Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 23/05/2014 | 02:30

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Judge Patrick McCartan

A MOTHER escaped jail and received a suspended sentence for what a detective described as the worst case of child neglect he's ever seen.

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Detective Garda Paul Carney said he and social workers found the 42-year-old woman's three children on a urine-soaked mattress in a bedroom in her "filthy" house.

He said the children, then aged two, four and eight years old, had soiled themselves and appeared lethargic.

The detective found milk powder that had gone off four months previously and no fresh food in the house.

He said it was the worst case he'd seen in his 13-year career.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the wilful neglect of the three children at her Kildare home on August 8, 2012.

She also pleaded guilty to assaulting her eight-year-old daughter at the same address on February 26, 2012. She has one previous minor conviction.

A foster mother, who took the children into her care, described them all as "dirty and smelly". It took four days to get the two-year-old into a bath as he was so distressed, having never bathed before.

The four-year-old only communicated by screaming, had never eaten solid foods and was not toilet trained.

The eight-year-old, though toilet trained, did not know how to clean herself properly afterwards. She told the woman that her mother had made her watch porn to show her how to have sex and made her brothers watch videos of animal slaughter.

Det Gda Carney told Daniel Boland BL, prosecuting, that he started monitoring the family after the eight-year-old arrived at school with a black eye. The girl told one teacher her brother had caused it, and another that she had been bitten by a spider.

The mother later claimed it happened because the children "always play rough".

The detective said he called randomly to the house between February and August and in that time he noticed living conditions and the mother's behaviour deteriorating.

He said she co-operated during interview, but denied being a violent drunk.

She accepted she had a "small stick" at home, but claimed she never struck her children with it and only had it to "frighten the boys".

Det Gda Carney told Mr Boland that the children are still staying with the same foster mother and have improved so well they are "almost unrecognisable today".

He also agreed with Damien Colgan SC, defending, that his client's appearance and the state of her home had improved, but added that he was still concerned about her alcohol consumption.

The woman now has supervised access to her children once a week and was working with social services to try and regain their trust.

Mr Colgan submitted to Judge Patrick McCartan that his client had "faced up" to what happened and entered an early guilty plea. He said she had suffered bereavement in 2012 and had been heavily drinking every day around then.

Judge McCartan said that the woman's behaviour deserved imprisonment. "I'm appalled by the evidence I've heard and it is a great shame of the accused that she left her children in this condition," he said.

He suspended the sentence for four years after taking into consideration the recommendations of a Probation Service report in court.

He ordered the woman to abstain from alcohol completely and be under Probation Service supervision for two years.

He warned the woman that if she didn't co-operate with the Probation Service or remain alcohol free, she was at risk of going to jail.

Irish Independent

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