A jury yesterday found a mother, aged 39, guilty of beating, starving, and neglecting eight of her children over a number of years, at a time when she claimed over €160,000 in social welfare payments.
The woman, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the children, had denied 42 charges of child cruelty and neglect by wilfully assaulting, ill-treating, neglecting, or abandoning the children, or causing or allowing the children to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, or abandoned, in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the children’s health or seriously affect their well-being, at six different locations on dates between September 1, 2006, and May 12, 2011.
The jury of nine men and three women took just under four hours, over two days at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, to find the woman guilty of 29 charges of child cruelty and neglect, and not guilty of 13 charges.
The woman was acquitted by the jury of 12 charges relating to the alleged cruelty, abandonment and neglect of some of the children at two locations between 2006 and 2008. They also acquitted her of a single charge which related to allegations made by her eldest daughter that her mother had cut her arm with a blade while showing her how to self-harm properly.
Judge O’Connor remanded the woman on continuing bail with several strict conditions attached, to appear before the court again in April for sentence.
During the trial, Shane Costello, SC, prosecuting, said it was the State’s case that what was done to the children between 2006 and 2011 went way above and beyond mere physical chastisement and amounted to actual assaults.
“This is not an allegation of scolding or reprimanding or chastising children, but one of actual serious, physical violence,” he said.
Mr Costelloe asked the jury to consider that what the mother did on one occasion, when she drove her car at two of her sons, causing them to believe they would be run over, had amounted to sadism.
Six children gave evidence to the trial by video link last week. They all alleged their mother regularly beat them, sometimes with her hand or fist, or with wooden spoons, a wooden back-scratcher or with leather belts.
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