Mother jailed for four years while father avoids prison sentence in child neglect case

The father pleaded guilty to five counts of assault and neglect

Mother jailed for four years while father avoids prison sentence in child neglect case

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A mother who beat and neglected her children for years in the west of Ireland has been jailed for four and half years with the final six months suspended, for 29 counts of neglect against her children. But despite pleading guilty to five counts of assault and neglect, the father was spared a custodial sentence.

Frank Greaney reports:

"The woman’s children once again found themselves in the same room as their abusive mother – a woman who, in the words of one of her sons, used him as a punching bag when he was 7. But this time there were no leather belts, wooden spoons or back-scratchers to beat them with. She was surrounded by Gardai and lawyers. Her victims by loving foster families."

"The seven children were taken into care in 2011 and several still carry feelings of abandonment, inadequacy and fear towards their mother. Aside from taking regular beatings, they often went without food and would be left in the care of strangers while she went drinking."

"Before jailing her for four years, Judge Karen O’Connor described the “atmosphere of fear and brutality” she created and the lack of remorse she’s shown. The 39-year-old kept her bowed throughout and made very little reaction as she was being led away."

The judge who jailed the woman, who can't be named to protect the identities of the children, questioned why the abuse went under the radar for so long.

During a trial last January, the court heard distressing details of how the mother used to regularly beat them and leave them in the care of strangers.

The woman's eldest daughter gave a very powerful Victim Impact Statement at her mother's sentence hearing last week.

She said she still feels intimidated by her and spoke of how her blood boiled every time she saw her in court. She endured those feelings once more today during sentencing.

Three months ago, the woman was convicted of 29 counts relating to the neglect of seven of her children between 2006 and 2011.