Mum accused of pouring washing liquid down her children's throats
A mother has been accused of pouring washing-up liquid down her children's throats, driving at them in her car and holding her daughter's head under water as forms of "disciplining" them.
The 39-year-old, who cannot be named, denies 44 charges of child abuse or neglect against her eight children, who ranged in age from teenagers to young toddlers, between 2006 and 2011.
At Galway Circuit Court yesterday, Shane Costello for the DPP said it was the State's case that the incidents went well beyond parental discipline or reprimanding a child for bad behaviour and constituted nothing short of assault and neglect.
He told the jury they would hear evidence of the children being beaten with wooden spoons, whipped with belts, struck with a piece of bamboo or struck against parts of the house.
It is also alleged that some of the children had washing-up liquid poured down their throats when they were acc- used of uttering "dirty words".
The court will also hear allegations that the woman put some of her children out of the car after they spilled ice-cream, before driving the vehicle at them, forcing them to jump on to a hedge.
Evidence was also heard from the defendant's oldest child.
"Drinking always resulted in violence or she would go off for days and leave us on our own," she said.
The young witness, who gave evidence via video link, told how on one occasion her mother had punched her in the face for dyeing her hair.
She said her mother missed her birthday, and when she questioned her about it she slapped her across the face, saying: "There's your present."
She claimed that in front of her younger siblings she was also dragged by the hair into the kitchen after she was overheard saying a vulgar word.
"She put me face first into the sink and proceeded to choke me while doing it. She proceeded to fill the sink with water to try and drown me all over one word," she said.
Mr Costello told the jury that the mother had acknowledged she had used physical force, but claimed it was no more than what was standard in the context of discipling a child.
"It was so grossly above and beyond the ordinary level of reprimanding children as to be nowhere in the vicinity of discipline but to amount to assault," said Mr Costello.
He said the State would present evidence of abuse of the children, saying some of them had gone without food and other basic necessities.
The alleged neglect and abuse came to light after all the children were taken into care following an unannounced visit by social workers in May 2011.