Monday 23 April 2018

Man charged over children choked at home

SHOCK: A garda stands near the scene where four children were attacked in their home in Co Wicklow. Photo: Fergal Phillips
SHOCK: A garda stands near the scene where four children were attacked in their home in Co Wicklow. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A man in his 30s appeared last night at a special sitting of Wicklow District Court with four counts of assault causing harm - alleged to have occurred on Friday night.

The 35-year-old man wore a grey t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms.

During the short court appearance he sat shaking and with his head in his hands.

Solicitor Kieran Conway presented a statement of means to Judge Gerard Furlong who granted legal aid.

Superintendent Paul Hogan asked that the defendant be remanded in custody and no application for bail was made.

Garda Neil Doyle told the court that the defendant was charged at Wicklow Garda Station at 7.37pm on Saturday. The defendant made no reply to each charge after caution.

Judge Furlong remanded the matter to Clover Hill District Court on Thursday, June 9 and ordered a psychiatric evaluation be undertaken. He added that the defendant is to obtain all appropriate psychological and medical assistance on arrival at his place of detention.

The victims, aged between three and 11 years, were allegedly attacked at their family home in Co Wicklow on Friday night.

One of the children, whose condition gave most concern to paramedics who arrived on the scene, was airlifted by coastguard helicopter to Tallaght hospital.

The other three children were rushed to the same hospital by ambulance.

However, after emergency care on Friday night, the children recovered well - and last night were due to be released from hospital into the care of relatives.

Gardai believe the man turned on the children between 7pm and 7.30pm on Friday night. He then left the house and went to the home of a relative and told them what had happened.

The horrified relative immediately alerted emergency services and the gardai who rushed to the scene.

Ambulance staff administered first aid but there was deep concern about the condition of one of the children.

The children's mother is believed to work in childcare and is originally from the South West. She and the children's father jointly celebrated the youngest son's First Holy Communion in the recent past.

As news of the incident spread through the community yesterday morning, local people in the quiet Wicklow townland were coming to terms with what happened.

The children come from a well-known and respected local family. Their home is off a quiet country road, a neat bungalow that shares a sloped driveway with other neighbouring houses, that are bordered with neat timber fencing.

Yesterday a uniformed Garda stood outside the house, beside a Garda squad car. Detectives in unmarked cars drove in and out. A number of people visited the house yesterday afternoon but did not want to comment to the media gathered outside the properties.

Locals berated photographers and media standing on the ditch along the quiet road.

Irene Winters, a Fine Gael councillor in Wicklow, said: "It is a very shocking and tragic incident and our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families involved... and we would hope for a speedy recovery for the children, and that all get the help they need."

John Snell, a Sinn Fein councillor for the area, said: "The whole community is in shock and all the thoughts and prayers are with the families connected to this."

Sunday Independent

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