‘Vermin’ mother left 10-year-old in charge

A schoolgirl yesterday called her mother “vermin” after a court heard details of the neglect of her seven children over a nine-year period.

The girl — now 17 — told Ennis Circuit Court that, at the age of 10, she was left to care for her new, prematurely born sister.

Wearing her school uniform in court, she said: “I was 10 years old. How I was supposed to know how to look after her? She was being neglected by her biological mother and left in my care.

“I didn’t know how to hold her or change her nappy. We didn’t have proper things like a bottle, a steriliser, a cot.”

The girl — described in court as a mother figure to the other children — called her mother “cruel and evil”. “She is very good at manipulating people,” she added.

“She warned us when social workers came out to the house to say that everything was fine and if we didn’t say that the social workers would take us away and burn the house down.”

In the case, the mother, 39, pleaded guilty to neglect and ill-treatment of five girls and two boys at different periods from Mar 2001 to Jul 2010.

The woman’s former partner, who is father of the younger six children, also pleaded guilty to the same offences yesterday.

The charges are contrary to Section 246 of the Children’s Act.

The court was told yesterday that the woman had a new baby in Sept 2011 with a new partner.

The children that are the subject of the charges of the case before the court are all now in care and the mother is allowed supervised access to one of the children once a month.

In her victim impact statement yesterday, the 17-year-old girl said: “My belief to this day is that they had us to get child benefit.”

“I had to look after my brothers and sisters while they went out drinking. I was beaten when things did not go right.

“What kind of parents are they? They used to go out drinking during the day. There was no food in the house. I used to ask the local shopkeeper to give us a few things until Thursday, because that was dole day.

“The Child Care Act says that every child has the right to live. Mine was denied to me. My mother and her partner used to leave the house and expect me to get the kids ready for school when they went off drinking every morning.

“I used to leave my baby sister on her own with a bottle and come back at break time and see if she was okay. We would be left hours with no food. They never cared for us.

“Judge, do you see how cruel they were to me and my brothers and sisters. All my life, no one listened to me.

“Don’t let my mother go free and unpunished. These people are vermin, they don’t care about anyone except themselves, they should rot in hell.”

Garda Róisín Ní Chatháin said alcohol was a huge factor in the case and that the mother would drink on a daily basis.

Garda Ní Chatháin added that the mother says that she is now sober.

Judge Carroll Moran said it was a very difficult case and adjourned sentencing to Feb 25.

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