No jail for mum who beat her nine-year-old son with a tree branch and poured salt over his wounds


A mother who beat her nine-year-old son with a tree branch and poured salt over his wounds after he soiled his pants has been given a two year suspended sentence.

After the assault she told the child he had to sleep in the bath and left him there for a time.

The 39-year-old foreign national, who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to wilful assault of her son at their home on June 24, 2012.

Judge Patricia Ryan noted the woman's apology and remorse for her actions. She said the woman now accepted this was not an appropriate way to discipline a child and was not permitted in this jurisdiction.

She imposed a two year sentence which she suspended in full for two years.

Patrick Whyms BL, defending, said the incident should be viewed in a “cultural context”. He said the woman had herself been a victim of corporal punishment and domestic violence but now accepts her actions are not an acceptable in this society and will not be repeated.

A local garda told Roisin Lacey BL, prosecuting, that the incident came to light after the young boy asked his teacher for “magic cream” for his arm. The teacher questioned him and the child made an allegation against his mother.

The HSE was contacted after the teacher and school principal noted marks and lesions on the child's arms and legs.

Social workers attended at the family home and the mother became angry and upset after being told of the allegation. She admitted hitting her son as a means of disciplining him and he was taken to hospital for examination.

Gardai commenced an investigation and the child was spoken to by specialist interviewer.

The child said he had been at a friend's house when he needed to use the bathroom but it was occupied. He went back out to play but when they were leaving his mother noticed he had defecated in his trousers. She told him he would be in big trouble when they got home.

Back at their home the mother told her son to take off his clothes and get into the bath. She came back in with a stick and the child began crying.

The child said his mother hit him on his arms and legs until there were marks and then poured salt all over his body. She told her son he had to sleep in the bath and left him in the room.

He said he stayed in the bath but did not sleep. His mother came back at some point, told him to wash and go to his room.

The woman was interviewed by gardai and said she had hit her son with a small tree branch from the front garden because she was annoyed he had soiled himself. She said it was normal where she had come from but now realises it is not the way children are disciplined in Ireland.

The accused, who has no previous convictions, denied pouring salt over the child.

Mr Whyms BL said the child and his siblings were taken into care for a time but have since returned to their mother and are happy with her.