A 17-MONTH-OLD baby was put sitting in the dock of an adult courtroom along with her mother because there was nobody else to mind the child.
The little girl was left with her mother in the dock as Dublin District Court was told of the multiple incidents in which the woman was caught begging with her daughter on the streets.
It is highly unusual for children who are not witnesses in cases to even be allowed into courtrooms let alone have to sit with their parents in the dock.
Judge Anthony Halpin allowed the child to remain with the defendant after hearing there was nobody else to look after the baby during the case.
The judge described begging as a "cottage industry" when he heard the baby's father made his living the same way.
The mother (20), with an address in north Dublin, had the case against her adjourned for a probation report when she pleaded guilty to four counts of using a child to beg.
One of the prosecuting gardai told the court he came across the mother begging with her baby in her arms at Johnson's Court, Dublin 2 on June 16 last.
She had her daughter with her and was arrested and taken to Pearse Street Garda Station, where she made no reply to the charge after caution.
Three other charges against her related to incidents on June 4, 9 and 23.
The garda said the facts in these cases were "substantially the same".
"It is used to provoke sympathy when you are begging," the judge remarked.
He asked where the accused's husband was.
The defendant told the judge through an interpreter that her husband was in hospital with a broken leg.
She did not know which hospital as she had not yet been to see him in the three days he had been there.
The accused had no education, was unemployed and had been making €60 per week begging to feed her child. This was her only source of income and her husband was also begging, the court heard.
"This is a cottage industry," Judge Halpin said.
He asked if the HSE could not carry out an inquiry into whether the child was receiving proper care and attention.
The judge adjourned the case for six months and said he would take a lenient view of it if the accused stayed out of trouble, but would not if there was any recurrence of the offences.