herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Boy (8) crying on street as mum drinking

RESCUED: Fire brigade called to save freezing child, court is told

AN eight-year-old boy was found alone and distressed on the steps of a city centre apartment block at night while his mother was out drinking for the evening.

The young mother, who cannot be identified, is now facing a charge of child neglect after the man responsible for bringing the child to a babysitter left the youngster on his own after ringing an apartment doorbell and walking away, it is alleged.

The fire brigade rescued the shivering child after two concerned women saw him alone and crying on the apartment steps.

The man, her sister's partner, is also charged with neglecting the boy in the incident in the north inner city last summer.

The mother, who is in her 20s, had begun drinking by the time she gave her child to the man.

She denies the claim of child neglect.

She claimed she trusted the man with her child but the best she could say about him in a garda interview was that there was "nothing mentally wrong" with him.

When gardai phoned her later that night, she was so drunk she did not know what she told them. Judge Denis McLoughlin adjourned the case at Dublin District Court and will deliver his judgement later this week.

The court heard two women saw the boy at around 10pm on July 10 last and called Dublin Fire Brigade. Firefighters called to the scene and wrapped the boy in blankets after checking his core temperature.

Gardai were then notified and the child was taken into the care of the Health Service Executive.

After several attempts, at 5am, Garda Stephen Tierney was able to contact the mother. It is not known how long the boy was left alone for as the mother could not remember when she sent him to the babysitter.

The court heard her sister's partner was given an address to take the child to where her other sister's partner would mind him. However, there was no answer there and the man returned to the address he had picked the child up from, rang the bell and left him outside.

Drinking

The mother had already gone out drinking with a friend.

When gardai asked the mother later where the child was supposed to be staying she provided them with a name but no address or phone number.

Defence Solicitor Eamonn Denieffe said the accused had put in place a system for the care of her child on the night and could not have known her son was not being looked after. He argued there was no intent to neglect her child. The first she knew that her child was "in jeopardy" was at 5am.

State Solicitor Aisling Kelly said it was enough for the prosecution to prove that the woman had been reckless as to whether her child was neglected.

Judge McLoughlin said the mother had a case to answer. In evidence, she maintained she knew the address she sent her child to but had not been willing to give it to the gardai.

The court heard she told gardai: "I don't think there's anything mentally wrong with (her co-accused), but you will see yourself when you talk to him, he's very agitated or something".

In cross-examination, she insisted she trusted the man. She said she had no idea what time the child left, saying: "when you are having a few drinks, you're not watching the clock".

"All factors lead to the conclusion that you were neglectful", Ms Kelly said. "You put your child in the position where he had to be recovered by Dublin Fire Brigade. God knows what could have happened".

hnews@herald.ie

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