Woman who killed son avoids prison

A Cork woman who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her son has received a suspended sentence.

Diane Ward, aged 44, of Harrison Place, Charleville, admitted smothering her son Anthony, aged 8, at their Cork home on September 3, 2012.

Ward appeared in court last March where she pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

Timothy O’Leary, prosecuting, reminded the court yesterday Ward had taken a significant overdose prior to the death of her son.

Earlier this year, the court heard that Ward felt that there would be no one to look after her son if she took her own life.

It was revealed that there had been a major rift between Ward and her family over treatment Anthony was receiving for ADHD.

The court heard Ward had been under pressure in preparation for Anthony returning to school.

Dr Helen O’Neill of the Central Medical Hospital said yesterday that Ward’s mental state remains stable.

“Ms Ward’s current mood is normal and good. Her mental state has remained stable and she is cheerful and taking part in activities.”

“She has had contact with her brothers but there has been no reconciliation with her mother. Her acute risk is low but there are still concerns about long-term suicide risk.”

The court heard that in the event of Ward being released from the Central Medical Hospital, a bed will be available for her at Carrigmore hospital in Cork.

“Ms Ward would not be discharged without suitable accommodation,” said Dr O’Neill.

Previously, Anthony’s father Mark Ryan said in a victim impact statement that Ward is a “person who made a mistake”.

“I’m getting on with my life. My loss has been traumatic and I am living with the memory of Anthony and all the good times. I miss him dearly. Diane and myself have been friends for 10 years. She is a good person who made a mistake. I wish her well and have no grievance with Diane.”

Earlier this year, the court heard Ward suffers from recurrent depressive disorder.

The court heard her only child Anthony was the “centre of her world” and that she had invested everything in him and for him.

Mr Justice Barry White yesterday imposed a seven-year suspended sentence on Ward.

“It is clear Ms Ward was very troubled mentally at the time she took her son’s life. It is also clear her son’s father has adopted a most charitable approach in this matter.

“It seems appropriate that the matter be dealt with in a non-custodial method. I propose a sentence of seven years, suspended for their entirety with certain conditions attached.”

Mr Justice White asked that Ward attend Carrigmore as a voluntary patient and that she accept such regime as is determined by Dr Martin Lawlor until such time as it is considered appropriate that she be returned to the community.


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