To make a mother

Calls for a review of the judicial system and sentencing laws have been heard too often in cases of rape, manslaughter, and sexual abuse. Examples where the level of the sentence does not appear to meet the seriousness of the crime however are still prevalent.

This week a 39-year-old mother of seven children was given a sentence of 4 and a half years with the last six months suspended, for the horrific abuse and mistreatment of her children.

The woman was charged with 29 counts of child cruelty, willful assault, neglect, abandonment, leaving them for days on end with strangers, including a paedophile, between 2006 and 2011.

On its own, this case seems to go against the very ideology of motherhood, but this isn’t an isolated case.

In 2014, the court found a mother-of-three guilty of  the “chronic neglect and other abuse” of her children. The lead detective said it was the worst case he had seen in his 13 years on the job. The eight-year-old daughter was made watch porn to show her how to have sex, and her brothers, then two and four, were made to watch videos of animal slaughter. The sentence for this? Four years, suspended.

In 2013, when Gardai stopped a car in a popular seaside town in Kerry, they found a two-year-old child with sunburnt skin wearing only a badly soiled nappy clutching a can of beer. His mother and three other adults were in the car which had travelled in the wrong direction along the road.The court heard there was a smell of alcohol on the child’s breath, and he was complaining of hunger. In this case, the mother was jailed for eight months.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Fergus Finlay of Barnardos said: “Unfortunately, there have been plenty of high-profile cases of child neglect and abuse such as Roscommon Case and Kelly Fitzgerald. The key recommendations issuing from these have consistently highlighted the need to invest properly in appropriate supports and services for parents. However, the State still hasn’t done this sufficiently meaning cases are continuing, and children remain at risk.”


Orla O’Driscoll

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