Friday 21 October 2016

Gardai probe claims baby was left alone in hot car while family shopped

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 01/06/2016 | 15:47

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Stock picture

A garda investigation is underway following claims that a newborn baby was left alone in the back of a car on a sizzling hot day for 20 minutes while her parents went shopping.

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Gardai have confirmed that they are investigating after footage of the alleged incident was posted on social media.

The footage, a 19-second video clip, was recorded on a mobile phone.

Yesterday, a woman called Shauna told RTE's Liveline how she had been sitting in her car outside the Market Green Shopping Centre in Middleton, Co Cork, when the family pulled up next to her yesterday afternoon.

When they left the car, the baby was strapped into a car seat while direct sunlight poured in through the four windows.

“I saw a car where two parents and a six-year-old child left a baby who looked about two weeks old alone,” she told the programme, noting that her car reported the temperature as 24C.

“The four windows were open a small bit. I was able to put my hand in to open the door – wasps could have got in, anyone could have opened it and robbed the child if they wanted to.”

Shauna had driven to the shopping centre with her mother and her two-year-old son, who had fallen asleep in the car. While her mother went shopping, Shauna stayed in the car to supervise the boy.

Another vehicle pulled up next to her, and she noticed the family walking away while the baby was left in the car.

She added that the child/parent parking area was so far from the shop that the family would not have been able to see their baby.

Shauna said she was concerned about the baby and reached into the car to open the door and give the baby some fresh air.

“She was wide awake. She was actually a happy baby, but it’s wrong to leave any child in the car. I was able to put my hand in, unlock it and open the door,” she said.

“I was watching my child asleep in my car, the air conditioning was on so at least it was cool in the car, but the sun was shining right on this baby, so I opened the door and I could feel the burst of heat.”

The family did not return for close to 20 minutes, during which time Shauna called the gardaí and reported the model of the car and its registration number.

“I waited around and there were more people gathering, they couldn’t believe it. The reaction was unreal,” she added.

Shauna also took a video of the incident, which she subsequently posted to Facebook.

“If they came out and said they hadn’t done it, I wanted to have proof of it, because it is cruel,” she said.

When the family arrived back to the car, they were told the guards were on the way. However, Shauna said the guards did not appear, and when she called back she was told they did not have any officers available.

When she warned the family she would be posting the video online, the father reportedly said “do what you want”.

The video garnered thousands of views and comments, but was later removed.

“Nearly five hours after I posted the video, the guards rang me and asked me to take it down, because the mother was there distraught and in tears because her mother saw the video overseas.

“I kind of thought, 'is that it?' I just thought, 'oh my god, that’s why she’s worried, because her mother saw it'. So I took it down after that.”

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