Friday 6 December 2019

Gardaí suspect genital mutilation of baby girl 'was carried out by witch doctor'

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Robin Schiller and Brion Hoban

Gardaí suspect the genital mutilation of a one-year-old girl more than three years ago was carried out by a so-called 'witch doctor'.

It came as a jury yesterday found a married couple guilty of the female genital mutilation (FGM) of their daughter.

The couple both pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of carrying out an act of FGM on a then one-year-old girl at an address in Dublin on September 16, 2016.

The 37-year-old man and 27-year-old woman also pleaded not guilty to one count of child cruelty on the same day. They are both originally from an African nation but cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

On the eighth day of the trial, the jury returned unanimous verdicts of guilty on all counts after almost three hours of deliberations.

The Irish Independent can reveal gardaí suspect that an older woman, who is known to the couple and the child, performed the genital mutilation.

However, the suspect returned to Africa before she could be interviewed by detectives and hasn't returned to Ireland since.

The woman is a so-called 'witch doctor' who was brought over specifically to carry out the genital mutilation of the young child.

Following the convictions yesterday, Detective Inspector Danny Kelly told the court that he objected to bail for both accused based on the seriousness of the charge and the potential of a flight risk.

He said there is a deportation order in place for the man which is under appeal and the woman is an Irish citizen.

The court heard that the couple's three children, including the victim in this case, are currently under the care of the woman's sister.

Det Insp Kelly said that in the event the accused were remanded in custody the children would remain in their aunt's custody if Tusla was satisfied with the arrangement.

Judge Elma Sheahan remanded both accused in custody and adjourned the matter for sentencing on December 20, next.

During the trial, the accused man said that on the morning of September 16, 2016, the family woke up at around 11am. He said that he noticed that his daughter had a "dirty nappy" and asked his wife to clean her.

He said his daughter came back from the bathroom no longer wearing a nappy and he showed her a ball with lights on it. He said his daughter ran backwards and he turned around.

The man said he heard his daughter crying and he picked her up to try to calm her. He said his wife came out of the bathroom and said she saw something between her daughter's legs which he realised was blood.

Dr Sri Paran, the consultant surgeon who operated on the child, said the child's bleeding was "not planning on stopping any time soon".

He said that had the bleeding not been stopped, by the following morning the child would have had difficulty breathing and would have gone into shock after around 20 hours.

Dr Deborah Hodes told the trial she helped to establish a clinic specialising in identifying and treating those suspected to have undergone FGM.

Dr Hodes said her observations of the child's injury were consistent with FGM.

She said the explanation the child sustained the injury by falling on a toy does not fit with the clinical findings.

Irish Independent

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