Father threatens to take back child in care
Infant in state care since last year but father tells court ‘I know where he lives’
The court heard that the man’s other children had also been taken into care due to allegations of abuse and neglect. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
The father of an infant taken into care last year by the Child and Family Agency yesterday threatened to take his child back during a hearing at the Dublin District Family Court.
Shouting at Judge Brendan Toale and at the social worker, the father said his life had been made “a living hell” and he got no respect.
The social worker, who was speaking at an interim care order hearing for the man’s youngest child, said the couple’s older children were also in care. They were removed from home because of neglect, and emotional and physical abuse. The father had refused to acknowledge the inadequacies in his parenting, she said.
He had also failed to attend the last three access visits with his son, though the mother had attended two. The mother was not in court and the father said his solicitor was unable to attend, but he was happy to represent himself.
He asked the social worker to confirm that he and his partner had attended parenting classes with her.
“But she cancelled half-way through because she is scared of [me], isn’t that right?” the father said.
He also asked what happened when gardaí investigated the allegations of physical abuse and neglect of the child. The social worker said a file had gone to the DPP who directed no prosecution.
“Because there’s no proof,” the father said. Judge Toale intervened to say that the decision by the DPP would not decide the childcare case.
Giving evidence himself, the father became increasingly agitated and said the agency was “nothing but a nuisance” and was tearing his life apart.
He had missed access visits because his mother died a month ago, he said.
“I wish it was me, not my mother, who died,” he said. He also said he might as well be dead to his children.
“No one is going to treat me bad ever again; I done nothing wrong.”
Interim care order
The judge said he was satisfied to extend the interim care order pending the hearing of a full care order for the child in June.
“I won’t be here for it and I’ll be getting my son tomorrow,” the father said. The judge outlined the consequences of breaking a court order, including a return to court and possible imprisonment.
“I’ll see you back here so,” the father said.
Exiting the court room, he threatened the social worker.
“I know where he lives, I know where he lives,” he said, referring to his son.
In a separate case, Judge Toale refused to hear an application from the agency seeking to alter access visits for the parents of two boys in care.
Both parents were in court and the father, who put a photo of his sons in front of him, said he had applied for legal aid, but none had so far been provided. The solicitor for the agency said the father had not made enough effort to get legal aid. He also said the visits were “unsafe” as the father had made threats to the access worker and social worker.
He wanted an order making access at the discretion of the agency instead of fortnightly. Having heard evidence of the father’s efforts to get legal aid, Judge Toale said the parents had taken steps that could be “reasonably expected” of them.
If the father was charged with being drunk and disorderly, the court could assign a solicitor immediately, but not in the case of a care order, he said. The judge said children were entitled to have all aspects of a case properly represented, not just the agency’s.
He told the parents to continue to pursue legal aid and adjourned the case for two weeks.