Judge weighs child cruelty decision

A district court judge is to decide whether to accept jurisdiction, or send forward to the circuit criminal court, a case involving nine charges of child cruelty by a father in the south-west.

The State is bringing the case under the Children’s Act 2001 and involves two children.

The accused is the natural father of one of the children.

Charges relating to alleged “punching, slapping, choking”.

The offences, involving a boy and a girl, occurred between 2006 and 2013.

A judge banned publication of specific details.

A garda said the man, aged 36, made no reply to each of the nine charges put to him of wilfully assaulting the children in a manner likely to cause suffering.

The ill-treatment of the girl began in 2007 when she was aged eight and continued over a six- to seven-year period, the garda said.

The ill treatment of the boy began when he was five.

Pressed by Judge James O’Connor to explain what was involved, the garda said it was “physical” and involved “choking, punching, slapping”.

“The kids were dragged by the hair and by the arm,” the garda continued.

The children’s mother was too upset to remain in court but was available to be called and was nearby, the garda said. Solicitor Padraig O’Connell said the man was the natural father of one of the children.

There are other children and they reside with the mother, with supervised access arrangements available for the accused.

The solicitor yesterday sought disclosure of documents.

The court was told by prosecuting garda that the DPP had consented to the matter being dealt with in the district court but only if the man pleaded guilty to the charges.

Judge O’Connor said the man faced “a very serious charge”.

The judge said that he also wanted to see the complete garda file on the matter. He remanded the man on bail and order “no unsupervised communication” with the two injured parties.

“And no means no,” Judge O’Connor warned.

The State has liberty to apply to the courts “immediately” if there is any breach of that order, he added.


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