A mother drove home drunk from a friend's house party with her young children in the back of the car, a court has heard.
Lawyers for the 34-year-old mother-of-two told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that it was the woman's “first time out in years literally” and she had arranged to stay overnight with her children.
Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said that people had gone to bed when one of the children became unsettled. The woman rang a taxi, but then realised she had no money to pay the fare and then made the decision to “get in that car” and drive home, counsel said.
He said she now knows her behaviour on the night was reprehensible and she regrets it.
Garda Lee Kelly told the court that he pulled the woman's car over at around 4am on the night of September 1, 2019, after seeing the car swerving across the road and driving on the wrong side of the road.
He said the woman co-operated initially, but Gda Kelly smelt alcohol and noticed she was slurring her words. He asked her about this and she then became abusive towards gardaí.
He said she began screaming at her two children that “this is your f***ing fault” and shouting at them to get out of the car. The children were around four and six-years-old and the woman cannot be named to protect their anonymity.
Gda Kelly said the children were crying and screaming and pleading with gardaí not to arrest their mother, he said.
Gardaí waited until the woman's father arrived at the roadside scene to take the children and then brought the woman into custody. She later refused to take a breathalyser and continued to abuse gardaí.
A Tusla investigation subsequently deemed the incident as neglect, but did not identify any other child welfare issues and the children are still with the woman.
The woman pleaded guilty to two charges of child neglect contrary to the Children Act, 2001 and one of refusing to give a sample, contrary to the Road Traffic Act, 2010. Her only two other convictions are for public order offences.
Mr Kelly agreed with Mr Le Vert that the woman has since apologised to gardaí for her behaviour on the night.
Mr Le Vert said his client was a single mother who in 2019 began studying to be a carer, including palliative care. He said that she is by all accounts an extremely caring, sweet person who had gone to her friend's birthday party on the night of the offence and had not planned to drive home.
Counsel asked Judge Melanie Greally to consider applying Section 100 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which allows the court to discharge an accused person from an indictment.
He said that a conviction for child neglect would likely prevent her from employment as a carer and “God knows we could use more carers at this point”.
Judge Greally said the offending was of a serious nature. She adjourned finalisation to February 9 next year.