Mother whose baby suffered multiple injuries avoids jail
Girl found to have skull fracture, broken arm and two broken legs when examined
The judge said the woman’s continuing efforts to rehabilitate herself would not be possible if she was jailed. Photograph: Collins Courts
A Co Clare mother whose five-month-old daughter suffered a catalogue of injuries in her care – including a skull fracture, a broken arm and two broken legs – has avoided jail.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys told the 23-year old woman: “I see no benefit to society, to the child, to yourself or to the father of the child by imposing a custodial sentence. I just don’t see any future in that and I don’t think that anyone will benefit from it.”
The judge said the woman’s continuing efforts to rehabilitate herself would not be possible if she was jailed and he imposed a two-year suspended sentence on condition that she continue to comply with the directions of a Probation Service report.
The judge said the standard of care provided to the baby “fell well below of what one would one expect from a mother and was totally unacceptable”.
He said the woman was unable to explain why she persisted “with this behaviour towards the baby knowing that it caused her harm”.
The mother had presented to her GP on February 13th, 2015 in a distressed state. Her daughter’s left arm was not moving and she had bruising to her face.
The GP referred the case to the paediatric unit to University Hospital Limerick where medics carried out a full skeletal survey of the baby that detected healing fractures of the left tibia and right femur and an older skull fracture.
Medics also detected a torn frenulum – the muscle under the tongue – which the child’s mother said could have occurred as a result of forcing a bottle or soother into the baby’s mouth.
The woman, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to wilfully assaulting and neglecting her daughter in a manner likely to cause unnecessary injury to the child’s health and seriously affect her well-being.
Counsel for the woman, Pat Whyms BL noted the State had not proceeded with assault causing harm charge against his client and there was no evidence to support a charge that the mother had deliberately assaulted the baby. Mr Whyms said his client had a deep sense of remorse over her “rough-handling of the baby”.
The offence took place on dates between the summer of 2014 and February 2015 when the mother was 19.
The judge said that the woman’s pregnancy was unplanned and the then teenager “was subsequently ambivalent about motherhood”. He said she was overwhelmed by the birth of her child and was subsequently diagnosed with post-natal depression.
The judge said the child’s father has custody of the child and the mother had supervised access.
The judge noted a probation report that said the mother has affection for the child, but recognises that she is not ready to care for her without proper support and supervision. “You have lost confidence in yourself after you realised the harm you have caused your child.”
The report found the woman was at a low risk of re-offending.