Neighbour heard 'screaming, roaring, and crying' at all hours, Munster child abuse trial hears

Woman was giving evidence in the trial of six family members accused of abusing three children between 2014 and 2016
Neighbour heard 'screaming, roaring, and crying' at all hours, Munster child abuse trial hears

On Friday, a woman who was living next door to the parents at the time of the alleged offences gave evidence in the Central Criminal Court trial.

A neighbour has told a child abuse trial she heard “screaming, roaring, and crying” from the children at all hours, day and night.

The woman was giving evidence in the trial of six family members accused of abusing three children between 2014 and 2016.

The accused are the parents, aunts, and uncles of the children. The parents are also accused of neglecting five of their children. All of the accused have denied the charges against them.

On Friday, a woman who was living next door to the parents at the time of the alleged offences gave evidence in the Central Criminal Court trial.

“The noise that went on in that house was extreme,” the woman told Eilis Brennan, prosecuting. “Nighttime, day time, every hour of the day.” 

There was “screaming, roaring, crying", the neighbour said. “Those kids cried more than they talked in that house.” 

The woman said she heard the children falling down the stairs “several times”. The six accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, range in ages from their 20s to 50s and live in various locations in Munster.

The charges against a fourth woman – the children's grandmother – were withdrawn earlier this week by direction of the trial judge.

There are reporting restrictions in place in the case to protect the welfare and identities of the child complainants.

The trial finished early on Friday due to repeated difficulties with the sound system in the court, which is sitting at Croke Park in order to facilitate social distancing.

Neighbour kept diaries

In her evidence to the court, the neighbour said she started keeping diaries to monitor the situation in the house after contacting the local authorities. The court heard she also called gardaí a number of times.

In her diaries, the woman outlined various incidents, including one when she said she saw one of the boys dangling from an upstairs window, caught by the waist of his pants. On another occasion, she said the same boy stood on the eaves of a garden shed and urinated into her garden.

She described one night where there was banging on the walls for “two, four, six hours”.

The neighbour said the children played outside on the street at various times of day, including early in the morning, without any adult supervision.

Under cross-examination by Mark Nicholas, defending the father, the woman agreed she had never entered the house.

In relation to an assertion that the children fell down the stairs, he suggested it could have been toys or another object. The woman said that on one occasion, she called the uncle after hearing a child falling down the stairs and the uncle confirmed this had happened.

The neighbour agreed medication was given to the children “openly”.

The trial has previously heard that social workers called to the parents' house unannounced. When this was put to the neighbour, she maintained “the house would be cleaned” and sweets removed before social workers arrived.

Mr Nicholas put it to the woman that a description of the child dangling out of a window was an “exaggeration”. 

“A child couldn't dangle out of a window without falling,” he said. The woman said she did not know what the child was attached to at the time.

The neighbour agreed with Dean Kelly, defending the mother, that she did not believe the couple were good or capable parents. She agreed that the children “didn't appear to have any fear or respect” for their parents.

The trial continues on Monday.

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