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No jail for woman who abandoned children in house

A woman who admitted abandoning three children — all aged under five — has received a suspended sentence.

Jacqueline Bernadette Teresa King, from Upper Malvern Road, Belfast, was handed a six-month suspended term when she appeared at Laganside Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

At an earlier sitting the 28-year-old had entered a plea of guilty to a charge that on September 4, 2005 she “wilfully neglected, abandoned or exposed” the children then aged four, three and two “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health”.

In court yesterday dressed in a cream woollen jumper, red and blue shirt, jeans and with large gold earrings, blonde-haired King, who was accompanied by a male friend, nodded to indicate that she understood the sentence which had been imposed.

A defence application for reporting restrictions was dismissed by District Judge Ken Nixon, who rejected it on grounds that the case had been before the courts six times without any requests for restrictions.

“I am not granting any reporting restrictions,” said the judge.

Minutes later an angry King stormed out of the court.

Last month, King told the Sunday Life newspaper how she left the children for a “few minutes” and claimed she had only pleaded guilty in a bid to avoid imprisonment.

“I was in a house on the Cliftonville Road when a fella came in,” she said.

“I was so frightened that I ran down to the phone box at Clifton Park Avenue to ring my mum and friend to tell them what had happened.

“I had only left the children there for a few minutes, but when I got back the cops were there and I was charged.

“This happened five years ago. Don't put my name in the paper.”

And King added: “I'm innocent, but my solicitor says that it would be better for me to plead guilty, because I wasn't in the house when the cops called. This is doing my head in.

“If you are going to write something, please don't put my address in.

“I've had hassle in the past from violent men.”

District Judge Nixon had deferred sentencing from February to allow time to read reports on the case.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph