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Mum fined for child neglect after son (8) found ‘wandering Dublin streets in pyjamas’

The boy lied about his age and told gardaí he was ‘exercising’ when found on the street at 3.20am

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Andrew PhelanIndependent.ie

A mother who worked night shifts has been fined for child neglect after gardaí found her eight-year-old son wandering alone in his pyjamas on a street in central Dublin.

The boy got out of his apartment after being left home alone by the single mother, who had agreed to work nights out of “financial necessity” as she feared she would lose her job if she refused.

The woman (37) had denied the charge, her defence claiming her actions were “inappropriate” but did not amount to neglect.

Judge Bryan Smyth convicted her of “exposing” the child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to his health, or to seriously affect his well-being. She was fined €250.

A garda told Dublin District Court he found the boy, “wandering around in shorts and a long-sleeved pyjama top” at 3.20am on a date in July last year. The boy took off running and stopped at his apartment.

He claimed he was “exercising” and asked gardaí not to tell his parents as he would get into trouble.

He lied about his age, saying he was 12. The garda believed he was defending his parents.

The woman knew she should not have left her son and was “ashamed”, her lawyer said.

The garda had concerns about the cleanliness of the apartment, which was very untidy and had unwashed dishes across the kitchen.

He also believed there was insufficient food in the fridge. The garda made repeated attempts to call the boy’s mother and she eventually replied and returned.

In interview, she said she had called her son at 1.15am to check he was OK and he was “a little bit sleepy”.

The child had been left alone all night “on a regular basis”, a State solicitor said.

The defence said the woman fed her son and let him watch cartoons and play a video game before putting him to bed. Tusla investigated and had no concerns.

Judge Smyth said the prosecution had not proved there was insufficient food, but found the child had been “exposed”.

The woman knew she should not have left her son and was “ashamed”, her lawyer said.

She knew money was not the priority and her son was “everything” to her but she had bills and rent to pay and had to provide for him. She felt she had no choice but to work nights when asked.

The accused was now on a different shift and had child-minding in place.

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