Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Judge who wanted to jail mother of truant

A District Judge has said that a mother who failed to send her daughter to school for almost 14 weeks should be jailed.

Barney McElholm has warned the 15-year-old girl’s mother that he will fine her £1,000 if her daughter fails to return to school after Easter.

Londonderry Magistrates Court heard that the fourth-year student was absent for 69 days despite earlier court rulings she should return to school.

A local education authority officer gave evidence that her mother had also failed to attend meetings with the organisation to discuss her daughter’s absenteeism.

Mr McElholm said if he had the power to send the girl's mother to jail he would.

He told the court: “It is the duty of every parent to see that their child receives an education and, if they fail in that duty, I believe they should be sent to prison.

“Unfortunately, the government has seen fit to remove that option from the court.”

Mr McElholm adjourned the case until 21 May and said if the girl failed to regularly attend school by that date her mother would be fined the maximum amount of £1,000.

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