Monday 18 December 2017

Boy had to look up online how to remove own cast after abusive mum refused to accept injury was serious, court told

When he came home she asked him to move furniture and do a handstand

Ennis court house (File Picture)
Ennis court house (File Picture)

Gordon Deegan

A teenage boy had to look up online how to remove a cast from his arm after his abusive mother refused to accept that his injury was serious.

At the Family Law Court in Ennis, social worker Mary Sheehan said the same boy passed out when his mother choked him.

Ms Sheehan, who works for the Child and Family Agency (CFA), said that on another occasion one of the teen's brothers, aged under five, was left gulping for air after their mother shoved his head into a pillow when he wouldn't settle.

Regarding the teen Googling how to remove his cast, Ms Sheehan said he broke his arm while playing and was hospitalised for a few days after emergency surgery.

Ms Sheehan said the boy's mother did not visit him while he was in hospital. When he came home she asked him to move furniture and do a handstand.

She said that the boy eventually removed the cast in the shower after the water had softened the cast.

Ms Sheehan was speaking during an application by the CFA to amend a supervision order that the woman have only one hour supervised access of her three children (under 18) each week.


The woman had enjoyed shared access of the children with her estranged husband since last July to late last month.

However, last month the CFA made an emergency move and sought an order that the woman have only supervised access to the children. That regime has been in place for the past three weeks, with the agency now seeking a court order confirming the new access arrangements

That followed gardai last month making available transcripts of specialist interviews with two of the children, conducted last September, that outlined allegations against their mother.

In evidence, Ms Sheehan described one incident where the mother threw a jar of Vicks at her daughter, striking her in the eye with it, resulting in a serious injury.

Ms Sheehan said that another sibling made allegations "that disclosed quite harrowing information of assaults; physical abuse where he was dragged around the floor by the hair; his head being pulled back and being force-fed and assaulted".

Ms Sheehan said that the CFA had heard allegations that when the woman was drinking heavily and addicted to prescription drugs that there wasn't any heat or food in the house.


She said: "There would be a food shop every three weeks - there wouldn't be enough food for school lunches. There were maggots around decaying food, the wash-up was not done."

Ms Sheehan said evidence of maggots was historical and the woman had since made considerable efforts in relation to the upkeep of her home.

Ms Sheehan said that the new information "gave us huge concerns that we hadn't known the full picture; that the abuse and neglect at that level we hadn't known".

Judge Grainne O'Neill granted the order to the CFA that the mother's supervised one-hour access a week to the children would continue and that a forensic psychiatric assessment be carried out on the mother. She adjourned the case for mention to May 19.

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