Sunday 21 July 2019

Man pleads guilty to cruelty to child after using belt

A man who hit his five-year-old son with a belt, has pleaded guilty to a charge of cruelty to a child, contrary to Section 246 of the Children Act 2001.

The 36-year-old defendant had his case further adjourned, having initially appeared before Drogheda court in December. The offence took place at the man's address in Drogheda on a date unknown in 2017.

Reporting restrictions were imposed in order to protect the identity of the young boy, who is awaiting a diagnosis for autism.

'Parenting is not simple,' Judge Coughlan remarked last week, and he added he was sympathetic towards the defendant.

Previously, Sgt Ray Brady said the DPP recognised there are 'familial difficulties' and directed summary disposal of the matter.

Last week, the judge said he would accept jurisdiction in the case. He noted a conviction would result in the man being dismissed from his job.

Sgt Brady said the child received no medical attention following the incident, the exact date of which was unknown. He was alone with his father at the time.

It was accepted by the DPP an adult caution for the defendant was an avenue that may have been explored, but the sergeant continued an adult caution was not open to the court.

Solicitor Siobhán Murphy added this was a 'once-off'. Túsla (Child and Family Agency) were briefly involved and are happy with a return to access for her client.

The boy, aged five at the time, is awaiting an autism diagnosis. He has a support worker in school.

His father very much regrets what happened. Nothing like this occurred before or since.

Ms Murphy said the victim's mother is very supportive of the father, and appreciates they are co-parenting the child.

While he knows the parents are estranged, the judge said he wanted to see the mother in court. He also sought a report from the Túsla officer who investigated the incident. The case was adjourned to 1 March next.

Drogheda Independent