A picture-perfect family was destroyed when it emerged that the father had shaken his infant twin son and daughter violently in an attempt to get them to stop crying, leaving them with injuries that only came to light after the little girl had convulsions.
A HSE investigation was triggered by the diagnosis of non-accidental head injuries as a result of being violently shaken.
It was only after 10 days of investigation, which also saw gardaí interviewing people who had dealings with the children, that the father of the infants admitted what he had done.
“As a result of the fact that my ex-husband took 10 days to disclose that he was the perpetrator, my children were received into care,” the defendant’s ex-wife said.
“That has had a detrimental effect. I will question the emotional/psychological impact of that, especially on [my eldest child], for the rest of my life.
She was giving the victim impact statement on behalf of the family yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. The 41-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the twin children.
Sergeant Eoin Buckley, who investigated the case last year, said: “It is our view this was reckless rather than intentional harm to his children.” Not that it makes it any lesser but I don’t believe there was any intention whatsoever in his actions.”
The mother of the two injured children said that her ex-husband is the only financial support she has for her family, as she has had to stop working and care for them full-time.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “She presents me with a dilemma. She is outraged with what happened to her children; it has caused her family to break down but her only financial support is her husband. That is a point maybe I am not prepared to be tied by.”
Tom Creed, defending, asked the judge to accept, as the defendant’s ex-wife accepted, that he still loved her and the children and would gladly go to jail if there was some way of providing for his family other than by working.
Sergeant Buckley said the matter first came to light when one of the infants got convulsions and was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis. The little girl’s twin brother was also taken to hospital to be examined and, in both cases, non-accidental head injury was diagnosed, the term associated with children being shaken violently.
The sergeant said the admission eventually made by the father was the first time the mother became aware of the assault.
“They were a picture perfect couple, they had a good relationship, a lovely family home... This was a huge tragedy for everybody. They are now separated,” the sergeant said.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin asked for the prosecution barrister to seek the opinion of the Director of Public Prosecutions on where this case stood on the scale of severity. The accused was remanded on bail until July 31.
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