Mum cleared over boy left out all night
A YOUNG mother whose eight-year-old son was found alone and distressed on the steps of a city centre apartment block while she was out drinking for the night has been found not guilty of child neglect.
The woman, who is in her 20s, was cleared of the offence after a judge ruled she did not intend the neglect that happened when the man to whom she had entrusted her child left the boy alone.
The man who was responsible for bringing the child to a babysitter, but left the youngster on his own on the street, has been told to carry out community service to avoid a jail sentence.
He rang the bell, but left before checking that anyone was there to mind the boy.
The child was rescued, shivering and crying, by the Dublin Fire Brigade at 5am in the incident in the north inner city last summer.
The mother had denied a charge of child neglect on July 10, 2010, while the man, who is her sister's partner, pleaded guilty.
Judge Denis McLoughlin told Dublin District Court it was "obviously a very contentious charge" but he had to look at the case "quite dispassionately".
"There has to be some element of intent to the offence - not recklessness but actual intent," the judge said.
"It is my belief that when she handed the child over to (her co-accused), the mother had absolutely no intent that what subsequently happened would happen."
The court heard the man, who was her sister's partner, had three previous convictions for public order offences.
He had made a "very very serious mistake" on the night and pleaded guilty to the offence, his solicitor said.
"He fully expected the person to come out of the house and take care of the child and there is no way he would have left him there if he had known this would not happen," the man's solicitor said.
"He didn't do what he did with a reckless disregard for the child."
Judge McLoughlin adjourned the case to May for a community service report.
He said he would be imposing a 240-hour order -- the maximum -- instead of a six-month prison sentence if the man was found suitable.
The court heard the woman had begun drinking by the time she gave her child to the man. When gardai phoned her that night, she was so drunk she did not know what she told them.