Thursday 17 October 2019

Mum jailed after drinking at wheel with baby in car

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A hospital care assistant has been jailed after she crashed her car while drunk, with an open can of beer beside her and her one-year-old baby crying in the back seat.

The single mother-of-one had been drinking the night before, after working six 12-hour shifts in a row.

A court heard she then had more beer at home before taking her child to a birthday party.

When gardaí found her slouched over the wheel, she was so drunk she was "unable to talk", with her young child in a "highly distressed" state. She tested more than four times the alcohol limit.

Jailing her for 28 days, Judge David McHugh said it was an "appalling breach of trust" and she "thoroughly deserved" the sentence.

He also fined her €200 and banned her from driving for three years.

The woman, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a child, as well as being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

Blanchardstown District Court was told the incident happened at Nangor Road, Clondalkin, west Dublin, at 3.30pm on June 24.

Garda Sergeant Maria Callaghan said officers found the car in the bus lane with the accused slouched over the steering wheel. The woman had a can of beer open in the car.

The accused smelled of alcohol, was slurring her words and her baby was in the back seat, in a highly distressed state, crying and sweating. The mother, who had no previous convictions, was arrested and the child was removed to safety.

The child and family agency Tusla found no ongoing issues and was satisfied that it was a "one-off incident", defence solicitor Valerie Buckley said.

Before the incident happened, the accused had worked six 12-hour night shifts. On the day she was arrested, she was going to a birthday party with her child.

She had drunk the night before and it was still in her system, Ms Buckley said. The accused "had some beer in her home before she left and she got in her car and drove".

Nobody was injured and she was "very grateful for that".

The accused had not taken an alcoholic drink since the incident and was in counselling, Ms Buckley said. She had worked in the healthcare sector all her life.

Judge McHugh said the woman had been "incapable of speaking or performing any other normal function when gardaí came upon her in a crashed car".

Ms Buckley said her client was "beyond devastated that this happened".

The judge said were it not for "the intervention of fate" the accused may well have ended up in "a different forum".

"She thoroughly deserves the sentence being handed down today and I have no hesitation in imposing same," Judge McHugh said. "Take her down."

Irish Independent

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