'She makes my blood boil,' says teen as mum found guilty of neglect
A teenage girl told how her mother "makes my blood boil" and left her afraid after a litany of neglect over a five-year period.
The 39-year-old woman, who beat and neglected seven of her children, will be sentenced later following a lengthy hearing at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.
The woman, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the children who are now aged between 19 and five years, had pleaded not guilty during a nine-day trial to 42 charges. The charges related to dates between September 1, 2006, and May 12, 2011.
She was found guilty of 29 charges involving child cruelty and neglect.
Her now 10-year-old son wrote a letter to Judge Karen O'Connor. In it, he expressed his sorrow at being separated from his siblings and he recalled feeling frightened and alone during his mother's violent outbursts.
"I think moms should take care of their children and look after them," he said.
The jury were previously told of beaten, hungry and ragged little children being fed by the neighbours, while their party-loving mother claimed over €160,000 in social welfare benefits.
Their plight came to light when they were taken into care in 2011 and began to recount stories to their foster parents of their mother's cruelty.
Victim impact statements read to the sentence hearing reflected the children's sadness at being separated from each other since being taken into care in 2011, and the anger they now feel towards their mother.
Her now 10-year-old son said in his statement that he wanted his mother to know she should not get away with it.
The eldest daughter (19) read her own statement to the hearing. "When I lived with my mother, I was full of anxiety. I couldn't eat for days. I get so angry with her for what she has done," she said. "She makes my blood boil. I'm scared from living with her. I feel intimidated by her and her friends, and I'm always afraid I will meet them when I'm out.
"The quality of my life now had improved immensely. When I lived with her, I had no friends, no boundaries. She gave me drink and drugs at 14."
A report from a psychologist in relation to the second daughter who is now 16, stated the girl was deeply saddened by the fact her siblings were taken away from her.
She had effectively been the mother figure from a very young age and had cared for her younger siblings as best she could.
Her 15-year-old brother's victim impact statement expressed his deep sadness and anger.
"It's not fair. I do not get to live with my family now. We only get together for one hour once a month."
His younger brother, who is now 12, stated in his report to the court that what his mother did to him and his siblings made him very angry.
Paul Flannery, SC for the defence, said the woman had a troubled past and asked that this be taken into account by Judge Karen O'Connor.
Sentence in the matter has been adjourned until next Monday afternoon.