Mother whose baby sustained skull fracture should not be jailed

Injuries detected in baby included leg fractures and torn tissue under the tongue

Mother pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court to  wilfully assaulting and neglecting her baby.

Mother pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court to wilfully assaulting and neglecting her baby.

 

The mother of a baby who suffered a catalogue of injuries, including a skull fracture, should not be jailed, the Probation Service has recommended.

At Ennis Circuit Court on Wednesday, Judge Gerald Keys said the probation report for the 22-year-old east Clare woman recommended she should be placed under the supervision of the service for a period.

The judge said the report stated to assess the risk of re-offending, it was necessary for the service to have contact with the woman and to engage with Tusla staff to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the baby.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty to wilfully assaulting and neglecting the child.

On February 13th, 2015, then aged 19, the mother, presented to her GP in a distressed state with the baby. Her daughter’s left arm wasn’t moving and she had bruising to her face.

The GP referred the case immediately to University Hospital Limerick.

Medics at the hospital carried out a skeletal survey of the baby and detected older injuries, including a healing fracture of the left tibia and right femur and an older skull fracture.

Torn tissue under the tongue

They also detected a torn frenulum, tissue under the tongue. The child’s mother had said this could have occurred as a result of forcing a baby’s bottle or a soother into the baby’s mouth.

Counsel for the mother, Patrick Whyms BL told the court the State had not proceeded with a charge of assault causing harm and there was no evidence to support a charge that the mother had deliberately assaulted the baby.

“Of course, this baby has sustained a catalogue of injuries and of course it is the duty of the parents to protect her, but there is no evidence that it was the mother’s purpose to injure the baby,” he said.

“Clearly, the baby has been treated in too rough a fashion by far and has sustained these injuries.”

The mother was diagnosed with postnatal depression in October 2014, the court was told. The baby is now in the care of the father as a result of a care order and the mother is allowed supervised access.

Consultant paediatrician at University Hospital Limerick, Dr Barry Linnane provided care to the baby and in evidence previously, he expressed doubt over the explanations given by the mother for the injuries. These included that the baby had fallen out of her pram and out of a bouncer.

The judge adjourned the case for mention to December 18th to fix a date for sentence.