A mother has admitted she left her two daughters in the care of an alcoholic man she had known for two months, while she went to a pub drinking with her partner.
The now 39-year-old mother has denied beating and neglecting eight of her children over a six-year period, during her trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.
The woman, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of eight of her children, has pleaded not guilty to 42 charges of child cruelty and neglect, at five different locations on dates between September 1, 2006, and May 12, 2011.
Six of the women’s children gave evidence by video link last week. They all alleged their mother regularly beat them, sometimes with her fist, with wooden spoons, a wooden back-scratcher or with a leather belt.
They said there was no food in the various houses in which they stayed and their mother would regularly go missing, sometimes for days at a time, and would often come back hungover.
Neighbours gave evidence of having to feed and clothe the woman’s two sons, whom they said were malnourished and badly dressed.
The woman’s two eldest children were found in the care of a very intoxicated man near a water course at about 10pm on September 1, 2006.
The woman was drinking with her partner in a nearby pub and could not be contacted.
The woman admitted to Shane Costelloe SC prosecuting, during cross-examination that she had left a male friend whom she described as a functioning alcoholic in charge of her two girls, then aged 9 and 7.
She claimed her friend was sober when she left the girls in his care at about 7.45pm.
Mr Costello asked her to explain how the man could be “stone cold sober” at 7.45pm and then be so inebriated by 9.45pm (when a garda found him) as to be completely incapable of looking after himself or the two girls.
The woman said she didn’t know and she could not answer that question.
She was adamant the man was sober when she left him in charge. She agreed with counsel that the man had died in 2010, due to alcoholism. She had known him a couple of months at the time.
Mr Costelloe said the only logical conclusion the jury could draw from the evidence was that the man had been drinking during the course of the day.
“What we do know is that you, knowing he was a functioning alcoholic, made a decision on September 1, 2006, to leave your children with him so you could go off to the pub,” he said to the woman.
“He wasn’t drinking at the time I left,” the woman said.
“Even if he wasn’t drinking, what does it say about somebody who leaves her two young, preteen daughters in the care of somebody she knows to be a functioning alcoholic, while she goes off to meet friends in a pub?”, Mr Costello observed.
The woman asked to take a break from questioning.
Earlier, when questioned by her defence counsel, Paul Flannery SC, she
denied her children were fed by the neighbours and contended she was spending all of her money on food every week.
The trial continues.
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