Mother of autistic child found drinking at home

By Brendan Grehan

A MOTHER (34), whose four-year-old son wandered out of her house and was found alone near a stream while his mother was drinking at home, received a 28-day suspended sentence in Blanchardstown District Court.

Judge David McHugh heard that the child is autistic.

blanchardstown courthouse

Blanchardstown District Court

The woman was before the court for a pre-sentence report.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and who has an address in Clondalkin, had pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a child under the age of seven at another location in Clondalkin on June 15, 2019.

She had also pleaded guilty to public intoxication at the same location on the above date.

The court had heard that at 7.45pm on the above date, people had observed a four-year-old boy on his own, crying and in a disorientated state, at an open space in Clondalkin.

The space was near a stream, the court had heard.

The Gardai were called and when they arrived they were told that the child’s mother was in a nearby local housing estate.

The mother was found in a nearby house and when they spoke to her they found her to be highly intoxicated.

Judge McHugh read the report.

He asked Sergeant Maria Callaghan if the woman had previous convictions. Sgt Callaghan said the woman had two convictions including one for simple possession of drugs from 2009 in Tallaght District Court.

The woman’s counsel, Ciaran MacLoughlin Bl, said his client had attended her GP after the incident and had since attended 18 counselling sessions in relation to her problem with alcohol.

He said on the date of the incident his client had been drinking at home and her son had wandered out of the house.

Mr MacLoughlin said the woman had suffered from depression and is on medication. He said she works in childcare.

He said the woman would benefit from supervision with the Probation Service.

Sgt Callaghan told the judge that in page 3 of the probation report it was mention that the woman received the Probation Act in 2018 for a similar offence.

Judge McHugh said he had “no doubt” that the woman would qualify for a prison sentence.

He added: “No doubt about that”.

He noted that the report states that the woman is at a moderate risk of re-offending.

He added: “The key point is that her child has special needs and I’m concerned that if I imposed a custodial sentence the child would suffer if he was separated from his mother.”

He said he would sentence the woman to 28 days imprisonment but added that he was “prepared and only prepared” to suspend the sentence for 12 months.

The sentence was suspended on condition that the woman attend all appointments with the Probation Service, that she continues to attend her GP and that she complies with all directions from the Probation Service.

He warned the woman that if there was any breach of the conditions he would send her to jail.

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