Couple accused of child cruelty refused bail; Daughter (9) remains in critical condition

Couple accused of child cruelty refused bail; Daughter (9) remains in critical condition

A judge has refused to grant bail to a couple accused of child cruelty as their nine-year-old daughter remains in a critical condition after suffering serious injuries more than two months ago.

The girl was taken from her north Dublin home and rushed to hospital on July 2 last. She suffered burns, bites, swelling as well as bruising, a court was told today.

Gardaí launched an investigation and arrested the mother and father, aged in their 30s, last month.

The married couple, who are non-Irish nationals, were charged under Section 246 of the Children’s Act, for alleged treatment of the child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to her health or seriously to affect her being. It can, on conviction, carry a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment.

The woman faces an additional charge for failing to seek medical assistance for the girl for a head injury.

They made no application for bail when their case first came before Dublin District Court on August 9 last. Gardaí have told the court that further charges could be brought.

Gardaí oppose bail

They faced their fifth hearing today when they appeared before Judge Bryan Smyth. A bail application was made. Detective Sergeant Eoin McDonnell opposed it on the grounds of flight risk and he cited the nature and degree of seriousness of the case.

He told the court the girl “remains in a critical condition as a result of injuries sustained in the incident”.

He said the accused man and woman provided versions of events that had been disproven and refuted, and there was phone data evidence. False versions of their whereabouts had also been given, he alleged.

Detective Sergeant McDonnell told the court they were aware their daughter was sick but the emergency services were not contacted for a number of hours. A 999 call had been made but it was disconnected after three seconds, he said.

He told the court the girl allegedly suffered burns, bites, swelling and bruising which were not believed to have been accidental or self-inflicted.

Detective Sergeant McDonnell feared the accused would flee the jurisdiction if bailed, and he said they were aware there could be further, more serious charges. He said they had fled their country and came to Ireland in 2011.

He also believed they could get assistance to leave Ireland at the earliest opportunity.

Defence counsel James Egan said when the accused couple left their homeland, they applied for asylum here. The children were left with grandparents and reunification did not take place for a number of years.

Counsel put it to Detective Sergeant McDonnell that they went in the ambulance to hospital with their daughter and visited her every day until their arrest.

Detective Sergeant McDonnell said they did not go every day and gardaí were present.

The barrister said it was accepted they had been frequent visitors. Their other children were placed in care and Tusla facilitated access.

Pleading for bail, Mr Egan asked the judge to note his clients had the opportunity to flee the jurisdiction before they were arrested.

The garda said they had resided at an address in north Dublin but when he contacted them later, they had moved and refused to say where they were.

“They made it difficult to be arrested,” he alleged.

Citizenship applications

Counsel told the judge the husband was a qualified tradesman and was in employment; the woman was a stay-at-home mother.

Members of the man's family were in court and could hand over his passport, counsel said.

He asked the garda if there was anything in the mobile phone data that suggested they were set for passage out of Ireland. Replying, Detective Sergeant McDonnell said two of the phones had data wiped off them, and they have been sent for analysis.

The court heard the couple have applications pending for citizenship. Counsel argued they had ties to the jurisdiction and could not be seen as a serious flight risk.

The garda said they had fled their country without their children. The court has also heard that a file on the case is with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Judge Smyth refused bail and remanded them in custody to appear again on October 14 next for directions from the DPP to be obtained.

The man and woman did not address the court and have not yet indicated how they will plead.

At their first hearing, on August 9, Detective Garda Aoife O’Brien said she arrested the 35-year-old woman in Dublin’s south-side on August 7 under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act. She was brought to Coolock station where she was charged the following night.

The court has heard she made no reply to the charge.

A psychiatric evaluation of the woman had been directed by the court following a request from the defence.

Detective Sergeant McDonnell had told the court the man also made no reply when charged.

A reporting restriction order was made initially after the defence asked that their clients’ identities would not be reported, “given the sensitive nature of the charge”. There were other children involved and the woman had frequent access to them, the court was told.

The court was also told she had “no experience of the Irish criminal justice system or any criminal justice system”.

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