Alleged abuse of children by family impossible due to State agency ‘scrutiny’, court told

Five family members are accused of abusing three children over two years

The accused are the parents, aunt and uncles of the children. File photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

The accused are the parents, aunt and uncles of the children. File photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

It has been suggested to a jury that the sexual abuse alleged by three children against members of their family could not have happened because of “the constant scrutiny” of State agencies.

Dean Kelly SC, defending the children’s mother, told the jury in his closing speech at the Central Criminal Court trial, that the abuse as alleged occurred while the family were under the care of a level of professional involvement which had been described in the trial as “tremendous and monumental” and that the parents were under “intense and constant scrutiny”.

Counsel told the jury it was almost like “a police helicopter was hanging over the house, where everything was illuminated” and suggested that it would be “extraordinary” if the allegations as set out by the children happened “under the noses of that constant level of scrutiny”.

Mr Kelly referred to the evidence given by a family support worker from a children’s charity and a social worker and said the women didn’t give evidence of having a concern around physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

He said the evidence of “a family circle of awful sexual violence” would have to have involved “a collusion between these family members” coming to this house and these children to satisfy their depraved needs “while literally passing social workers at the gate”.

Mr Kelly also referred the jury to his client’s interview with gardaí­ and asked the jury to put out of their mind “the fallacy that innocent people don’t confess to crimes they didn’t commit”.

He also suggested that, while the sergeant in the case said that adaptations had been made during the interview process to allow for his client’s intellectual disability, these adaptions were not made, “not one jot”.

Mr Kelly said his client absolutely denied the allegations for four interviews until “deep in interview five” she made exhausted admissions.

He suggested to the jury that the various admissions the mother made about sexual allegations against her children should have been questioned further by gardaí, as many of her admissions were “hard to make sense of”.

The 34-year-old mother has pleaded not guilty to 25 counts including sexual assault, sexual exploitation and wilfully neglecting a child at locations in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014 and April 28th, 2016.

The mother and father have also pleaded not guilty to wilfully neglecting another two of their children at a location in Munster on unknown dates between August 18, 2014 and April 28, 2016.

The five family members, who can’t be named for legal reasons, are accused of abusing three children between 2014 and 2016. The accused are the parents, aunt and uncles of the children. They range in ages from 27 to 56 and live-in various locations in Munster. All of the accused have denied the charges against them.

Reporting restrictions are in place to protect the welfare and identities of the children.

In relation to the mother, Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, told the jury in his closing speech that she was a “central part of this case” and that she had made admissions when interviewed by gardaí.

“Importantly, she has admitted her wrong-doing but is just not prepared to stand by the admissions she made to the guards,” he said.

Her admissions to gardaí were “the strongest evidence you can have, an acknowledgment by the person who did it, that they did it,” Mr Condon said.

He said that for the entirety of her garda interviews, the mother had a solicitor with her and no complaints were made. She had 11 consultations with her solicitors throughout the course of her interviews, the jury was told.

Mr Condon said it was “convenient” now for the mother to not want to accept her admissions but that there was a “ring of basic truth” to them which was consistent with her children’s allegations against her.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul McDermott on Thursday.