Girl fights leniency of mother’s sentence

The daughter of a woman convicted last month of neglecting her children has urged the DPP to appeal the leniency of her sentence.

Last month at Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Carroll Moran gave a suspended four-year sentence after the 38-year-old woman pleaded guilty to the neglect of her seven children between 2001 and 2010.

Judge Moran said the woman had deprived her children of their childhood, adding that she had committed the “unnatural crime” of neglecting her own children.

In the witness box, the woman’s eldest daughter described her as “vermin” and “cruel and evil”.

Judge Moran said that when the four youngest were placed in foster care, they “were very frightened, dirty, malnourished children. They did not know how to eat at the table, didn’t know how to use cutlery and were not toilet trained.”

The seven children are aged between 17 and four and are all in HSE care.

Now, in a letter written on behalf of the eldest daughter to the DPP, solicitor Patrick Moylan has called on the director to appeal the sentence.

Mr Moylan said the girl was “very distressed with what she feels to be the undue leniency of the sentence imposed” on her mother.

In the letter, Mr Moylan reveals that the mother made a false report to social services that neighbouring parents were neglecting their own children.

Mr Moylan said a court report recorded that these neighbours endured “a living hell” as a result of the false allegations.

The woman pleaded guilty to the offence and received a six-month jail term on her on Mar 26, 2010. On appeal to the circuit court, the woman was given the benefit of the Probation Act.

Mr Moylan said his client was seeking for the sentence to be appealed “on the basis that the sentence handed down by Judge Moran was unduly lenient given the horrific nature of the neglect in this case and, furthermore, given the failure of the State to bring to the attention the fact and nature of the false report offence to which the woman had previously pleaded guilty”.

He recounted how his client, then aged 8, was handed her baby sister to look after while her mother went out drinking.

“The baby was left strapped in a baby chair,” he said. “My client would go to school and return from school breaks to check on the baby. Other than my client’s brief trips home, the baby was left alone in the house strapped to the seat.”

He said his client further recounted that there was no food in the home, but there was food in a locked freezer in the shed.

“Her mother would then take food from this freezer when social workers would attend to give the appearance that there was food in the house for the children,” said Mr Moylan.

Opting not to jail the woman last month, Judge Moran said it would not be right to impose an immediate custodial sentence because of the woman’s attempts to address her alcohol problem, inadequacies as a parent, and her plea of guilty, notwithstanding the awful description of how she treated her children.


Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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