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Mum who left baby out in cold avoids jail

A mother who left her three-month-old baby outdoors "in the depths of winter" in sub-zero temperatures avoided jail yesterday.

The 38-year-old woman left the child crying hysterically in a buggy outside her home while she remained inside the house in a "highly intoxicated state".

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, pleaded guilty to neglecting her child on January 7, 2009, outside her home.

Garda Rory O'Mara told Roisin Lacey, prosecuting, at Dublin Central Criminal Court that he received a report of an incident at the woman's address at around 9 on that night.

"The child was outside in a buggy, fully clothed with a blanket on. The temperature outside was well below freezing," he said. "The front door of the house was open and I heard shouting coming from inside."

Gda O'Mara said the accused was shouting "I don't want that baby, it's not my baby", and then went outside to have a cigarette.

He agreed with defence counsel Patrick Marrinan that the woman's partner had had a seizure earlier in the evening and the woman said she could not "cope with her partner's seizure and the baby crying".

The woman and her partner had been drinking earlier that day in a nearby pub and she said that the last time she had fed and changed the baby was at around 1.30pm that day.

Gda O'Mara said he located the woman's partner in a house next door "highly intoxicated" and he had refused to return to the house. The accused woman then came out of the house and retrieved cans of beer from the baby's buggy while gardai took the baby to the patrol car to take her to her grandmother's home.

The accused claimed she had "only left the baby for two to three minutes outside" as she had rushed inside to use the bathroom.

Mr Marrinan said the accused had been staying at a women's refuge centre but was not allowed to return that night as she had taken alcohol.

"She has limited intellectual ability and her IQ is 58," said Mr Marrinan. "She needs education in parenting skills and had severe educational difficulties from a young age."

He said the accused developed significant alcohol problems and on the day in question she had had a "serious argument" with her partner.

"But this is no excuse for leaving the child outside. She was drunk and unable to cope," said Mr Marrinan. "And she recognises the seriousness of the offence. The abandonment and neglect of the baby was over a short period of time."

Mr Justice Patrick McCartan said he "cannot agree" that the abandonment and neglect was "over a short period".

"On the basis of the HSE intervening and the children are now under close supervision, I have some comfort in not sending the accused to prison," he said, ordering that the accused continue to engage with the HSE.

Source Irish Independent

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