‘I didn’t know what a mum was supposed to be’

Mother who beat and neglected seven children to be sentenced next week as court hears of their anger

The sentencing of a 39-year-old mother who beat and neglected seven of her children over a five-year period has been adjourned until Monday, following a lengthy sentence hearing at Galway Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

The woman, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the children, who are now aged between 5 and 19, had pleaded not guilty during a nine-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court in January to 42 charges of child cruelty and neglect at six locations on dates between September 1, 2006, and May 12, 2011.

The jury found her guilty of 29 charges.

The mother appeared in court for sentence yesterday flanked by her new partner, two other young men, and a woman.

Victim impact statements read to the hearing reflected the children’s sadness at being separated from each other since being taken into care in 2011, and the anger they now feel towards their mother.

  • The eldest girl, 19, read her own statement to the hearing. She thanked her mother for being cruel as she had met her wonderful foster parents as a result of that.

“When I lived with my mother, I was full of anxiety. I couldn’t eat for days. I get so angry with her for what she has done.

“She makes my blood boil. I’m scared from living with her. I feel intimidated by her and her friends and I’m always afraid I will meet them when I’m out.

“The quality of my life now had improved immensely. When I lived with her I had no friends, no boundaries. She gave me drink and drugs at 14.

“Since coming into care, I do not see my family as much, however, I am grateful for having my foster parents. That is one thing I have to be thankful to her for.”

  • A report from a psychologist in relation to the second daughter, who is now 16, stated the girl was deeply saddened by the fact her siblings were taken away from her.

She had effectively been the mother figure from a young age and had cared for her younger siblings as best she could.

The girl, the report stated, was angry that her mother had failed to protect her from harm and had experienced feelings of abandonment and betrayal by her mother.

She also had “strong feelings” towards her mother for having to endure the court process during the trial.

“As a child, all I knew about life was minding children and then having that taken away from me; I was all over the place,” she had told the psychologist.

The psychologist described the girl as “engaging, talented and a warm young person with a strong, caring instinct”.

  • Her 15-year-old brother’s victim impact statement expressed his deep sadness and anger. “When I lived at home, I was always afraid. My mum drank all the time and left us alone. I was scared and upset when mum was at home.

“It’s not fair I do not get to live with my family now. We only get together for one hour once a month.

“My mum stopped seeing me a long time ago. It made me angry. She didn’t want to see me.

“I’m way behind at school.

“I didn’t know what a mum was supposed to be. I now know. I have boundaries now and I prefer boundaries.

“Coming up to the trial, I thought there was no point in living. Since coming into care, I’ve been getting help and have a lot of appointments to help me.

“I feel sorry sometimes for [her then partner]. He tried to take care of me but couldn’t. My foster father takes care of me now.”

A psychological report on the boy found his mother’s ill-treatment had “a profound and enduring impact” on him.

  • His younger brother, now aged 12, stated in his report to the court that what his mother did to him and his siblings made him very angry. “I was never loved. I was always scared and anxious. I always felt humiliated and was made fun of when living with my mother.

“I felt at seven years of age that life was not worth living. I was used as a punching bag.

“She was an angry woman and he was an angry man. I was angry that she was never at home to mind us.

“It has taken three years of counselling to get rid of my anger and I’m now confident.

“I’m treated respectfully by my foster parents. They have taught me what is right and what is wrong.

“It would be nice if we could all be together. I’m relieved.”

The boy signed his statement using his foster parents’ surname.

  • The woman’s now 10-year-old son wrote a letter to Judge Karen O’Connor in which he expressed his sorrow at being separated from his siblings and recalled feeling frightened and alone during his mother’s violent outbursts.

He wanted her to know she should not have done this to her children and she should not get away with it. “I think moms should take care of their children and look after them,” he stated.


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