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Friday 9 December 2016

Mum who tried to abduct child from creche avoids jail

Rebecca Cunningham
Rebecca Cunningham

A mother-of-three who tried to abduct a young girl from a South Dublin creche believing it to be her own daughter has been given an 18-month suspended sentence.

Rebecca Cunningham (34) was in a drug-induced psychosis and searching for her own child when she appeared at the back garden of the childcare facility.

She then took a girl who she thought was her own three-year-old daughter. The child took Cunningham's hand and was walking out of the facility with her when the manager spotted what was happening and followed her.

Gda Shane Doyle agreed with Seamus Clarke, prosecuting, that the manager was "calm but quite purposeful" because she did not want to upset Cunningham.

She said she needed to contact the child's mother to confirm she had permission to collect her, but Cunning- ham replied: "I am her mother."

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that while the child was confused, she was not distressed.

Cunningham did not let go of the girl's hand when the manager asked that she return her to the yard, but she was not violent and did not try to get a tighter hold of the child.

She did not manage to leave the creche with the child, who was ultimately returned to other staff, while the manager took Cunningham to another room to sit while gardai were alerted.

Cunningham, of Rory O'Connor Park, Dun Laoghaire, pleaded guilty to abduction last September 22.

Barrister Niall Nolan said Cunningham had been extremely unwell but is now fit to plead as she is attending her psychiatrist and is compliant with her medication.

Distressed

"Her mental health incapacitated her and led to this deeply sad and traumatic search for her daughter," said the lawyer.

Judge Martin Nolan said Cunningham was in "a very distressed and confused state looking for her own child" and she found this girl who she thought was her daughter.

He complimented the creche manager in behaving in "a responsible and sensible way" and noted that Cunningham was "appeased without much difficulty".

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