Thursday 22 March 2018

A 'genuine human emergency': major search for pregnant woman who failed to show at hospital

Four Courts
Four Courts

Saurya Cherfi and Ray Managh

A MAJOR search was on today for a 30-year-old mother of four who is almost nine months pregnant and failed to turn up at a hospital to have the delivery of her baby induced.

The High Court heard that the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, presented a “high risk” pregnancy due to a medical condition.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty was told that the HSE had tried to contact her through direct calls and texts and family members had also been contacted after the woman, who is 39.5 weeks pregnant, failed to attend her medical appointment. An Garda Siochana had also visited her address.

Tim O’Leary SC, counsel for the HSE, told the court that the woman had a long history of involvement with child protection services in relation to her ability to care for her children.

Mr O’Leary, who appeared with barrister Sarah McKechnie, told the court that her first two children had been taken into care and now lived with their maternal grandparents. Her third child had been adopted in the UK and her fourth one had been placed in foster care.

He said there were significant risk factors in the woman’s ability to parent, including evidence of neglectful parenting, eventual abandonment and inconsistency with accepting assistance from professional services throughout pregnancy.

Mr O’Leary told Judge Moriarty that the HSE was seeking orders permitting An Garda Siochana to immediately search for, arrest without warrant and detain the vulnerable woman to transfer her to a hospital.

The HSE also sought orders to immediately transfer and detain the woman to a hospital to undergo assessment and monitoring as was deemed appropriate.

Counsel said the matter was extremely urgent as, because of her medical condition, there were significant risks to the wellbeing of the lives of the mother and her unborn child.

The court heard that the HSE and the Gardai believed she may be with a sister. She would be assessed by psychiatrists when transferred to hospital.

Judge Moriarty, describing the case as a “genuine human emergency” granted the reliefs sought by the HSE. The judge, who adjourned the case until Monday, also appointed a guardian to the woman.

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