Friday 18 October 2019

Mum is jailed for leaving her autistic son (5) home alone

Photo: Stock picture
Photo: Stock picture
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A mother who left her "severely autistic" five-year-old boy at home on his own has been jailed for four months.

The boy, who cannot speak, was found eating chocolate spread from a jar with his fingers when gardai entered the home in north Dublin.

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The area around him was "very dirty" and he was wearing a nappy that had not been changed for some time.


His 32-year-old mother began to cry after Judge Dermot Dempsey jailed her for four months.

Outlining the evidence, Sgt Anthony McNulty said gardai were called to an estate shortly after 5pm on August 22, 2017, following reports of a number of suspected thefts in the area.

Sgt McNulty said gardai encountered the defendant and asked about her five-year-old son.

He said officers went to the woman's home and found the child alone in the house.

He was eating from a jar of chocolate spread and using his finger as a spoon.

Sgt McNulty said the area around the child was in a very dirty state.

He said there was a smell of urine and the boy was wearing a nappy that had not been changed in a long time.

Sgt McNulty said the child had autism and was non-verbal.

The sergeant said the defendant's partner was in Temple Street Children's Hospital with another child at the time of this incident.

The court heard the defendant had previous convictions, many for theft-related matters.

Defence solicitor Fiona D'Arcy said the defendant was a chronic drug addict who had lost everything due to her addiction. Since this incident in 2017, the woman had lost her children and her relationship was over.

Ms D'Arcy said this incident happened when the woman was at her "lowest ebb".


She said she felt a "huge amount of shame", and nothing the court did could make her feel any worse.

Ms D'Arcy said the defendant was now stabilised on methadone, had regular supervised access to her children, was under the care of her GP and was doing much better.

The solicitor asked the court not to jail the woman and to seek a probation report, as this would allow her to continue to see her children.

Judge Dempsey imposed a four-month sentence and he refused to suspend it.


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