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Thursday 21 November 2019

Married couple in 30s on cruelty charges over injuries to daughter (9)

A married couple have been remanded in custody on child cruelty charges after their nine-year-old daughter was discovered with serious injuries at her north Dublin home. Photo: PA
A married couple have been remanded in custody on child cruelty charges after their nine-year-old daughter was discovered with serious injuries at her north Dublin home. Photo: PA

A married couple have been remanded in custody on child cruelty charges after their nine-year-old daughter was discovered with serious injuries at her north Dublin home.

The girl was rushed to Temple Street Children's Hospital on July 2 and is still receiving treatment.

Gardai launched an investigation and earlier this week they arrested the mother and father, who are aged in their 30s.

The parents were brought to separate garda stations in Dublin, where they were charged and held pending their appearance before Judge Bernadette Owens at Dublin District Court yesterday.

Judge Owens said that given the nature of the proceedings there were reporting restrictions, and she ordered the defendants could not be identified publicly by the news media.

The couple, who are not Irish nationals, sat close to each other after they were brought into court.

The assistance of an interpreter was required by the woman, but Judge Owens was told the co-defendant did not require one.

Detective Garda Aoife O'Brien told Judge Owens she arrested the 35-year-old woman in Dublin's southside at 12.15pm on Wednesday under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act. She was brought to Coolock station, where she was charged at just after 10.30pm on Thursday.

Suffering

She faces two counts under Section 246 of the Children's Act.

One charge was for failing to seek medical assistance for the girl for a head injury.

The second charge alleged treatment of the child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to her health or to seriously affect her well-being.

The offences can, on conviction, carry sentences of up to seven years' imprisonment.

Det Gda O'Brien said the woman made no reply to the charges and she was handed a copy of the charge sheets.

The detective applied for a remand in custody pending the preparation of a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions. "There is a possibility of further charges," she added.

Defence counsel James Egan told the court there was no application for bail at this time and there was consent to her being remanded in custody to appear again on Wednesday, August 14.

The judge acceded to a request from the barrister to order a psychiatric evaluation of his client.

She asked if the woman was on any medication, to which counsel replied: "No, judge, not that I am aware of."

Counsel asked that his clients' identities would not be reported, "given the sensitive nature of the charge". He said there were other children involved and the woman had frequent access to them.

Granting the order, the judge said reporting restrictions were not unreasonable.

Visibly upset, the woman sat at the side of the courtroom and remained silent throughout the proceedings.

Legal aid was granted after counsel said the accused did not work and was a "stay-at-home mother".

The judge noted there was no garda objection. The barrister also told the court the woman had "no experience of the Irish criminal justice system or any criminal justice system".

Remand

Detective Sergeant Eoin McDonnell told the court the man (37) was arrested in north Dublin. He was charged at Balbriggan Garda Station on Thursday night, after which he made no reply.

He faces a single charge, also under Section 246 of the Children Act, for treatment of the child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to her health or seriously affect her well-being.

Det Sgt McDonnell asked for a remand in custody and Mr Egan confirmed the man was not applying for bail.

The defendant stood with his arms folded as evidence of his arrest was given, but he did not address the court.

He was also granted legal aid. He will also appear again before the court on August 14.

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