| 1.2°C Dublin

Mum may face cruelty charges after leaving children home alone

THE mother of the four young children left alone in their Navan home could face prosecution on her return to Ireland.

Today gardai were waiting to interview the woman, who it is understood, travelled to England on Monday to visit her partner, who is studying in London. The mother, said to be in her 30s, left the three girls aged 12, six and four with their five-month-old brother in the semi-detached house.

Social workers took the four children into care when gardai were alerted by a member of the public.

Neighbours saw the woman loading up her car on Monday and she is believed to be due back in Ireland tomorrow.

The children, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, may have been left in the care of a woman in her early 20s but she was not in the house when gardai arrived about 28 hours after the mother left for England.

The children appeared to be well cared for and were in good health. They were taken first to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to be checked and then taken into care.

They attend a local school and earlier this week were seen heading for class.

Last night, however, the home was in darkness.

Locals described the mother as a "nice, pleasant" person who was "quite bubbly" and very welcoming. "I couldn't say a bad word about her," said one.

It is understood the HSE secured an interim care order in the district court on Tuesday afternoon and the children will remain in the care of the health authority until next Wednesday at least.

The children's mother could be charged with cruelty under the Childcare Act 2001. A person found guilty of this offence on summary conviction faces a fine not exceeding €2,000 or a maximum of 12 months in prison.