By Gordon Deegan
A teenager often thought of killing his mother to end the horrific abuse he and his younger siblings were suffering at her hands, a court has heard.
In court today, the male said his mother (47) made his life "a living hell" through years of physical and emotional abuse.
In his victim impact statement, he said: “I often thought about killing her as I know it would make life better for my siblings, but that would mean they would have to grow up without their older brother and they didn’t deserve that.”
However, the male - now aged 20 - did end the horrific catalogue of abuse when he informed his school guidance counsellor and school principal of the treatment being meted out by his mother to himself and his two younger brothers and sister. A Garda investigation was subsequently launched.
At that stage in March 2015, his older brother had already run away from the home due to the abuse.
He said: “My mother was the main reason for my older brother running away from home. She treated him the worst out of everyone in the family.”
The then teenager subsequently told gardaí that his final image of his older brother, before he ran away, was seeing him standing outside the house with his mother in September 2014 “and his shirt was ripped, his pants were covered in blood and his face was covered in blood”.
The same evening his brother asked him to pack his bags and he ran away.
The teen said his first memory of the abuse suffered from his mother was her breaking a boat paddle on the two brothers when striking them with it in around 2008.
Today the two are living together overseas while the three younger siblings are living with their father away from their mother.
Investigating garda, Garda Kevin Duffy told the court that while the mother is allowed one hour supervised access with the three children each week only one child elects to meet her and Garda Duffy said that “TUSLA has grave concerns over the contact the mother has with the children”.
In his victim impact statement on behalf of the three youngest, their father said that the mother was “out of control” during a supervised visit in 2016 when she shouted at one of her sons and at the TUSLA social worker.
In the case, the woman has pleaded guilty to ill-treating and neglecting her four children over a 30-month period between October 2012 to April 2015.
The children were aged variously between 15 and 18; a sister between nine and 12; a brother between seven and 10 and a brother aged between one and four. No charges were brought against the mother in respect of the eldest as he had fled the jurisdiction before the Garda investigation was launched.
The court heard that the woman’s only daughter told her father: “A mom is supposed to love, care and protect you, but she didn’t do that."
In an interview with gardaí when asked to describe herself as a mother, the accused replied: “Cruel, violent, pathetic, unhappy.”
The woman told gardaí that she was “crying for her children” after hearing what she had done to them.
Her counsel, Patrick Whyms BL said that what the court has heard “is a horrific catalogue” of abuse and “no one is more horrified that the accused person herself”.
In his statement to Gardai, the main complainant documented the years of abuse he suffered.
In one incident in 2013, the teenager had a cast on his arm after breaking his arm while playing sports.
The teen was out some time later playing with friends in the front lawn at home when the mother demanded that he do a handstand with his cast on.
He refused and she threatened that she would hit him with an electric cable if he didn’t. He refused and the mother then assaulted him with the electric cable.
Garda Duffy said that the teen did the handstand even though it caused him extreme pain and the boy said that his mother laughed at him when she saw the pain he was in.
The teen said that his mother never brought him to any medical appointments in relation to his broken arm forcing the boy to remove the cast himself in a hot shower after watching a video on YouTube.
The teen also recalled that when he was 16, his mother was drunk with her children at a friend’s home and he had to drive the family home.
The mother was asleep in the car and after the teen put his younger siblings to bed, the mother came into the house and without warning punched him into the face and split his lip.
In another incident, the mother chased her son out of the house at night with a coat-hanger and he was forced to sleep outdoors for the night on a trampoline with no cover as she had locked the doors of the house.
The teen’s sister recalls another incident where their mother gave her brother ‘a whipping’ from the cable to a laptop that left him with red and white marks on his body.
The teen said because of the mother’s neglect, the house was in a terrible state and evidence was heard that it was vermin-infested with bluebottles everywhere with rubbish and unwashed dishes. One witness said that the house was ‘vile’ and had a dreadful smell while the house was in complete darkness during summer days as the mother didn’t allow any light into the house.
The teen felt that his younger brother - aged between seven and 10 - bore the brunt of his mother’s brutality among those who remained, as he was affectionate with his dad.
The teen remembered instances where the mother would force feed his brother by grabbing his nose and jamming food into his mouth.
In respect of the youngest in the family, the main witness said that he remembers his mother shoving the toddler's face into the pillow for three to four seconds, hear him catch his breath and slap him across the face and body.
The baby was also force-fed. The teenager recalls: “If he spat it out, she would slap him and put the food back into the mouth.”
The only daughter in the family was described by Garda Duffy as extremely gifted and intelligent and in the top 6% academically in the country.
She recalled to gardaí her mother hitting her so hard across the face that her palm was imprinted on her cheek.
The girl recalled her mother throwing a Vicks jar at her and hitting her below the eye.
The girl wasn’t allowed to leave the house to go to school until the swelling subsided and when she did eventually leave, she had to tell people she fell off a swing.
A friend of the accused said that the mother would pull the girl around like a rag doll and her head would hit off objects.
The girl said that it was up to her two older brothers - including the eldest who eventually ran away - to get breakfast and prepare school lunches as their mother stayed in bed.
She said that the two eldest would sacrifice their meals in order that the three youngest be fed.
Garda Duffy said that the mother would do a shopping trip once a month but that the food would run out after three to four days and the eldest boys would try to scrape by to ensure their young siblings were fed.
One female friend of the accused who used to drink wine and watch TV with her recalled sharing rock cocaine with the mother in the house saying that the woman would snort it, smoke it and put it into their drinks.
The friend said that the mother would be as cruel to the children sober as when she was intoxicated.
The mother separated from the father of the three youngest children in 2009 and Garda Duffy described the father as “an honest, hard-working man who found himself out of his depth and manipulated, bullied and downtrodden by his wife”.
He said: “She was far too domineering for him - a simple man who would try to do all he could for his family but wasn’t allowed and pushed out of the house. Having suffered at the hands of the accused and her aggression, he found it impossible to live with her.”
No members of the family were in court for sentencing hearing where the accused betrayed little or no emotion as she listened intently to the evidence and victim impact statements.
In her Garda interview, the mother said that she lost the ability to be a good mother and she suffered in the past with addiction problems.
Counsel for the state, Lorcan Connolly BL said that the accused said that there was no excuse for what happened and she regretted that her children had to go through this.
When asked by gardaí what she thought of her son who alerted the authorities, the mother said that she was proud of him and that he did what he had to do.
Mr Connolly said that the accused said that she had no support or help and was isolated and in a bad place and admitted that her behaviour was deplorable.
When asked to comment on the allegations made by her children, the woman said: “I believe every word out of my children’s mouths.”
She said: “I am sorry my children have suffered.”
On behalf of his client, Mr Whyms said that his client was dependent on alcohol, prescribed on medication for depression and then abusing that medication and "sliding into darkness".
Mr Whyms said that since April 24, 2015 when confronted when her son’s allegations, the accused has not consumed any alcohol or abused prescription drugs.
He said: “She has dedicated herself to rehabilitating herself and getting all of the assistance that she could.”
Mr Whyms said that the accused was born to young teenage parents, was fostered, had lived on the street for a time and was abused.
Mr Whyms said that a report on the accused said that she “is remorseful, guilty and ashamed”.
The judge remanded the accused on continuing bail to May 21, although the judge said that he didn’t know if he would have the sentence ready for that date.
“This is my statement against my mother. Since moving away from my mother, my life has changed in a very positive way. I think this is a very clear indication that my mother was not a good parent.
“I can honestly say that she made my life a living hell. She made my life so hard nearly to the point of me wanting to end my life.
“She was a horrible influence and she made me stay at home from school regularly to mind the kids who she also made stay home from school so she could rest because she stayed up all night watching TV.
“Last year I moved abroad to get work as I didn’t get the college course I wanted due to the fact I have missed so much school and couldn’t keep up with all the work. I would say my Mom was abusive in every sense of the word except sexually from the age of nine or ten. I was abused physically and emotionally.
“I often thought about killing her as I know it would make life better for my siblings but that would mean they would have to grow up without their older brother and they didn’t deserve that.
“My mother was the main reason for my older brother running away from home. She treated him the worst out of everyone in the family. He now lives with me. I am glad to have him in my life again.
“My mother does not deserve to have those kids in her care or life - in my eyes, she doesn’t deserve to have visitation rights. The kids are having a much better life without her and I couldn’t imagine a better parent that their Dad.
“My life is much better now thanks to the family and friends I have. I will never be able to fully get over all the horrible things that woman put me through.
“I understand everyone has demons but doesn’t justify how she treated us. I hope she never has custody of those kids ever again. She doesn’t deserve to have them in her life."
“The accused’s behaviour and actions caused the children great pain and suffering.
“At bed-time, the youngest child said out of the blue to me that he was afraid of the dark. When I asked him why, he replied ‘one night when I was naughty and wouldn’t eat my food, Mom made me swallow a big spoon of vinegar and then put me in the room next door and turned off the lights and I was very scared'.
"Their mother was prone to unpredictable and sudden outbursts of anger the children told me.
“No child should be treated like the children have been. This behaviour was abusive, neglectful and very cruel.
“They were very traumatised, extremely unhappy, anxious and very vulnerable from their time with their mother. This trauma manifested itself in many ways, in bed wetting and nightmares.
“They lived in constant fear that their mother would turn up unannounced at their school and bring them back to their house.
“In that vulnerable period, this was one of the things they feared the most - no child of their age should have to worry about that - especially when it comes from their own mother…Sadly, she has broken their trust.
“Now at this point, with a little more structure, security and peace, their lives are coming back to some type of normality but it will take a long time for them to move on and heal from the trauma they have suffered in their lives as a result of their mother’s actions.
"It would be hoped that the children would never be subject to this behaviour again...They have suffered enough.”