By Carol Byrne
A THREE-year-old child was left alone in a bedsit, while his mother went off to see her boyfriend. The incident led to a case before Ennis District Court this week, where the 22-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to one count of child cruelty.
Inspector Tom Kennedy, prosecuting, outlined how the gardaí received a call at approximately 1.30am on October 26 last from a tenant in the property that the defendant occupied. Gardaí heard from a man, who was living above the defendant’s bedsit, that he had heard a child crying in the room below. The child, the court heard, was three years and eight months old.
“He was calling ‘Mum, Mum’ for about 20 to 30 minutes. Garda Noel Pearse went to the address and heard the child crying. The door was locked. The garda told the child to go back from the door. He comforted the child,” Inspector Kennedy said.
The garda made contact with a relative, who took the child into their care. He said the defendant, the mother of the child, was contacted at 2.30am by phone.
“She said she left the apartment at 11.30pm and the child went to sleep at 9.30pm. She went to her boyfriend’s house. She locked the bedsit. The child woke up and was crying. She was asked about this as part of an interview process and she said she was sorry for what she did. There was no element of drink or any untoward aspect to that,” Inspector Kennedy explained.
The court heard that contact was made initially with the mother by phone, but that gardaí met with her formally the next day.
“Thankfully everything worked out without further harm to the child,” Inspector Kennedy said. The woman, he said, had no previous convictions.
Solicitor for the defendant, Ms Fiona Hehir said her client had written a letter to the court. She explained that in this letter the defendant had given an insight into her background, how she grew up and her relationship with her own parents.
After reading the letter, presiding judge Patrick Durcan, said he had to commend the defendant for putting these thoughts in writing. Addressing Ms Hehir, Judge Durcan said a probation report would be helpful in the case.
“I’m absolutely satisfied from what I’ve seen in this case that a probation report is of benefit. I appreciate that she is getting help. On the basis of her cooperation with the probation services I don’t think I will be making an order in this case,” he said.
He imposed a reporting restriction preventing the media from publishing the identity of the mother and child in the best interests of the child.