Woman found guilty of “most serious” neglect of her children will not face review

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

The Court of Appeal has refused to review an entirely suspended sentence imposed on a woman for the “most serious” neglect of her children over a ten year period.

The 40-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Criminal Court to the neglect of five girls and two boys at different periods from March 2001 to July 2010.

She was given a four year prison sentence suspended in full for seven years by Mr Justice Carroll Moran on February 25 2013 and one month later the DPP applied for a review of her sentence on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”.

Refusing the DPP's application yesterday President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the case posed a difficult question for the court.

A “catalogue of abuse” formed the basis of the charges and “very serious crimes” had been committed, he said.

The DPP was concerned, Mr Justice Ryan said, that there wasn't any guidance from the Court of Appeal on how to deal with cases of this kind.

However, the DPP was conscious of the rehabilitative efforts made by the woman. Moreover there was another child to whom she had responsibilities and about whom there were no childcare concerns, according to a report by TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, he said.

If the court declared the sentence to be unduly lenient, Mr Justice Ryan said the question of a new sentence would in effect be irrelevant because a custodial sentence would not be appropriate.

The hopes reflected in the judge's sentence had in fact been realised because the mother had conducted herself in a manner which was entirely consistent with the obligations imposed on her, Mr Justice Ryan said.

These included attending Alcoholics Anonymous and engagement with the probation service.

Mr Justice Ryan said it was understandable why the DPP took the view that this was an appropriate case to apply for a review of sentence.

The court did not give any view as to the appropriate sentence but it could be said that any court looking at the severity of neglect in the case, would have to view it as being on “the most serious level”.

It could be inferred, he said, that the court considered the case as being “extremely exceptional”.

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Michael Peart, refused the DPP's application for a review of sentence.