No jail for mother’s years of neglect

A mother who deprived her seven children of a childhood through nine years of neglect has walked free from court.

At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran imposed a four-year jail term on the 38-year-old, suspending the term for seven years.

Judge Moran said the woman committed the “unnatural crime” of neglecting her own children and “deprived her children of a childhood, which will have long-lasting consequences.”

In the witness box, the woman’s eldest child — now aged 17 — described her mother as “vermin”, and said she was “cruel and evil”.

When she was 8, the girl was forced to act surrogate mother to her newborn sister after the baby was abandoned by their mother.

The woman pleaded guilty to the neglect and ill-treatment of the five girls and two boys at different periods over a nine-year period from Mar 2001 to Jul 2010.

The children are today aged between 4 and 17.

All the children are now in care. Judge Moran said that when the four youngest were placed in foster care, “their foster mother said that the four were very frightened, dirty, malnourished children. They did not know how to eat at the table, didn’t know how to use cutlery, and were not toilet-trained.”

Judge Moran said the woman had abandoned her children to spend long periods in a pub with her now former partner and father of six of the seven children.

“As a result of this drinking, there was insufficient food in the house, and sometimes no food at all. The children were left for long periods, alone and without food. An aggravation of this was that there was a fridge and freezer in a shed at the back of the house, which was kept locked and meant that the children were denied access.

“Everything in the home was driven by the parents’ urge for alcohol, and the children were under threat and strict instructions not to speak to social workers.”

Judge Moran said the woman had no previous convictions and was a victim of domestic violence from her own alcoholic parents. She had not taken any alcohol for five years, was in a new relationship, and had a baby in Sept 2011.

Opting not to jail the woman, Judge Moran said: “Because of her attempts to address her alcohol problem and inadequacies as a parent, and her plea of guilty... it would not be right to impose an immediate custodial sentence.”

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