Update: The mother jailed today for six months after being convicted of cruelty to her three children is likely to appeal her sentence.
Eugene Murphy, solicitor, told Judge Olann Kelleher that setting a high bail pending appeal would be difficult for her as her resources are very limited.
The judge said he would allow her to appeal in her own bond, which effectively meant that money did not have to be lodged. It will now be a matter for a judge at Cork Circuit Appeals Court to decide on the case.
The maximum sentence on conviction in the district court for child cruelty is 12 months. This appellant’s six-month sentence could be increased, reduced or replaced with another type of penalty.
The court had heard how a member of An Garda Síochana had to force his way into a house in the early hours of the morning in response to children crying out for help and their mother has confessed to child cruelty.
Three little children were found locked into bedrooms without lights. On the floor of one room was a potty full of urine. No adult was present in the house at the time.
These were the stark facts outlined by Sergeant Gearóid Davis when the accused pleaded guilty. Judge Olann Kelleher expressed concern that she had a previous conviction for child cruelty.
The 30-year-old woman, who is not named in coverage of this case as it would identify the children, pleaded guilty to one charge in respect of each child. Each charge states that on August 5, 2018 she wilfully neglected (child’s name) in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering to the child’s health or seriously to affect her well-being.
“On August 5, 2018 at approximately 2.30am Garda Patrick Buckley was on mobile patrol and was called to check on the welfare of a number of children in a house (a few miles outside Cork city).
“It was alleged the children were in the house on their own while the mother was on her way to a friend’s house in (elsewhere in the county).
“Garda Buckley discovered the mother was not in the house. She was in custody at a garda station (on suspicion of drink driving).
“Garda Buckley knocked on the door and he identified himself as a member of An Garda Síochána and he could hear children call out to their mother and they were asking for help.
"Garda Buckley asked them to come down to the door so he could show them his uniform. One of the children shouted they couldn’t open their door. Garda Buckley entered the premises by force.
“He went upstairs and observed two bedroom doors closed with two hook-and-eye latches on the outside of them, at the top of the door frame.
“Garda Buckley then turned to the second bedroom and found a young (child) in a cot. Both bedrooms had no lights working in them.”
The children were aged from seven to two.
In the course of the outline of the evidence, Judge Olann Kelleher asked by way of clarification, “The bedroom doors were locked so the children could not get out.”
Sgt Davis confirmed this was the case.
A 30-year-old mother was sentenced to six months in jail today for cruelty to her three young children.
Judge Olann Kelleher described it as a harrowing case at Cork District Court.
Three children were locked in bedrooms without lighting as their mother went out drinking, leaving them without anyone to mind them.
The eldest child – aged seven – frequently begged her mother not to lock her into her bedroom with a latch that was screwed into the frame on the outside.
The 30-year-old mother of three was sentenced to three concurrent six-month jail terms for cruelty to each of her children on a date in August last year.
A member of An Garda Síochána arrived at the house in the early hours of the morning hearing them inside crying for help and unable to get to the front door. He had to force his way in to assist them.
Eugene Murphy, solicitor, said the mother who has a previous conviction for cruelty to her children in similar circumstances had been addicted to prescription tablets and alcohol but had since undertaken life-changing rehabilitation and loved her children deeply.
The sentence will be appealed.