Friday 22 March 2019

'Very unusual prosecution' - woman found not guilty of abducting her own son

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Stock picture

Anne Lucey

A woman has been found not guilty of abducting her own child by bringing him to the UK.

In a "a very unusual prosecution" at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee, the jury heard that the mother defied a family law court guardianship order that allowed her child's father access.

She was arrested in the UK in July 2018 and has remained in custody since, she was extradited to Ireland in November.

She has been in custody for eight months and refused bail.

The man was given custody and would not allow her to have any contact.

She told the couple their marriage was "arranged" in their home country when she was 17.

They moved to Kerry in 2002, where he found work in the hotel industry.

Their child was born in Kerry in 2007.

The woman said that she lived in fear of her husband from the start of their marriage and sought shelter in the women’s refuge on five different occasions and was granted custody of the child.

She had said her husband beat her while she was breastfeeding. He was also alleged to have kept her child benefit and would not allow her to contact home.

She admitted taking the child, who was under the age of 16, out of the country at Dublin Airport on June 13 2016, without the consent of the father or of  a District Court in Kerry.

She claimed that she never intended to stay away and she did not realise she needed the court’s consent.

They separated in 2013 and lived in different towns in Kerry.

In 2014 he divorced her without informing her but said they both wanted a divorce.

The man told how he believed the problems with his wife were family issues and she should not have gone to the women’s refuge or the gardai.

He also wanted to know what it was she was saying to the GP, but she would not tell him.

He denies bullying or abusing her and said her bruises noted by gardai in 2009 arose from herself banging into walls, the man said she made up stories for the women’s refuge and the gardai.

Dean Kelly, barrister for the woman, asked him if he was familiar the Irish saying about the “woman who walked into doors,” and he said he was not.

He also denied resenting her taking a part-time job, which she has said she had to give up because of his attitude.

The woman obtained a Safety order under the Domestic Violence Act in 2009, and a barring order in 2014 Detective Garda Brian Mackey said in evidence for the prosecution.

The man  was charged with breaches of the safety order but she did not wish to give evidence in court, the garda said.

Judge Thomas E O’Donnell told the jury today that this was a most unusual prosecution and the first such prosecution he has ever dealt with.

He asked them  to put aside their emotions in a case full of emotion and also put aside cultural issues and any sympathy about the fact the woman has been in custody since July and not seen her son.

Judge O'Donnell said that credibility was at the heart of the case.

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, unanimously after deliberating for an hour of 1 hour and 19 minutes.

The woman who had clutched a prayer book and a handkerchief throughout cried when the verdict was delivered.

She thanked the judge, and the prison officers, and in tears  she thanked and hugged her legal team.

She said the women’s refuge would help her and she hoped she would soon see her son.

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