Judge gives Cork mother benefit of doubt after children found in 'horrific' condition

Judge gives Cork mother benefit of doubt after children found in 'horrific' condition

A mother accused of neglecting her four-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter, who were described as being in a “horrific” condition, has had the case against her dismissed.

Diarmuid Kelleher, solicitor, said the mother of two had been prescribed Lyrica tablets prior to this and had complained only days earlier of experiencing dizziness.

Gardaí investigating the alleged child neglect testified that she appeared to be intoxicated at the time of the incident, but all of the witnesses agreed that there was no smell of alcohol from the accused on the night.

Mr Kelleher argued that the prosecution case of wilful neglect was based on the accused being intoxicated but the defence was that she was actually ill at the time.

The defence solicitor also emphasised the statement in writing from the social worker that, in his professional opinion, the accused was not criminally negligent.

In his oral evidence, this witness said that criminal neglect was not a matter for him to decide.

Mr Kelleher also said at the close of the prosecution case that there was evidence that in the days prior to this disputed neglect, the defendant had complained of dizziness from taking Lyrica.

Judge Con O’Leary said that there was a doubt in the case and that the defendant has to get the benefit of the doubt. He found her not guilty of the child neglect.

The mother of the children was present for the resumption of her trial yesterday but she did not have to give any evidence in her own defence.

The 33-year-old woman had been accused of wilfully ill-treating, neglecting, abandoning, or exposing the children to unnecessary suffering after 8pm on August 10, 2017. She denied the charge at Cork District Court.

The mother in this case is not identified in media coverage as this would identify the children whose identity is protected.

Three gardaí and an ambulance paramedic testified about the condition of the children when they encountered them in the taxi.

Garda Alan Hurson said: “The condition of the children was the worst I have seen since joining the organisation. They had to be changed out of their clothes. The nappy of the child was so bad it came over the side walls of the nappy.

Judge gives Cork mother benefit of doubt after children found in 'horrific' condition

“Both children were dirty, not just from that day but [appeared] they had been in their clothes for a couple of days. They were tired, hungry, they were scared as well. They were both in pyjamas when I was dealing with them.”

Garda Eric Brannigan said of the mother: “She appeared to be very incoherent, she was frothing or foaming at the mouth.”

Garda Mary Jane Somers went to the defendant’s house that night and said of the accused: “She appeared to be out of it. Her eyes were rolling in her head. Her house was in poor condition.”

She said there was old food and dog food around the floor and very little fresh food.

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