Tuesday 19 March 2019

'Emotional' case as mum is found not guilty of abduction

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Anne Lucey

A woman has been found not guilty of abducting her own child by taking him out of the country.

Judge Thomas E O'Donnell yesterday described the case at the Circuit Criminal Court sitting in Tralee as a "very unusual prosecution".

The woman had taken her son to the UK in defiance of a family law court guardianship order allowing the father access. The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been in custody since she was arrested in the UK last July.

The charge was brought under the non-fatal offences against the person act by the DPP. She had told the court that her marriage was "arranged" in her own country and took place when she was 17. The man was twice her age and the couple moved to Kerry in 2002, where he worked in the hotel industry.

The child was born in 2007 in Kerry.

She said she lived in fear of her husband from the start of her marriage and sought shelter in the women's refuge on five different occasions and was granted custody of the child.

She admitted taking the child, under the age of 16, out of the country at Dublin Airport on June 13, 2016, without the consent of the father or of a District Court in Kerry. However, she never intended to stay away and she did not realise she needed the court's consent, she said.

He kept her child benefit, would not allow her to contact home, and at one stage beat her while she was breastfeeding their child, she said.

They separated in 2013 and lived in different towns in Kerry.

However, the man told how he believed the problems with his wife were family issues and she should not have gone to the women's refuge or the Garda.

In 2014 he divorced her without informing her, but said they both wanted a divorce.

The woman obtained a Safety order under the Domestic Violence Act in 2009, and a barring order in 2014 Det Garda Brian Mackey said in evidence for the prosecution.

Judge O'Donnell asked the jury to set aside their emotions in a case full of emotion. The woman, who had clutched a prayer book and a handkerchief throughout, cried when the jury found her not guilty.

Irish Independent

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