Belfast Telegraph

Mum 'totally ashamed' of being drunk in charge of her autistic son (4)

By Nevin Farrell

A judge said it was "quite harrowing" that a mother was drunk in charge of her four-year-old autistic son.

Tara Jane Lawther (46) of Templeton Park, Templepatrick, County Antrim committed the offence on a day out to Portrush on October 10 when she claimed she met up with a friend and got drunk.

It is believed to be one of the first cases of its type to come before Coleraine Magistrates Court.

Lawther had gone to Coast pizzeria in Portrush and after becoming abusive to staff, police were called.

She kicked a number of police officers and also assaulted random passersby outside the premises.

Door staff were also punched.

During a police interview Lawther said she went to the Harbour Bar in Portrush with her son and after meeting up with an old colleague she said she had six glasses of wine and couldn't remember leaving to go to Coast.

A defence lawyer said on the day in question Lawther felt she needed a break and took her child to Portrush and the drink mixed with medication she taking for anxiety.

The lawyer said the defendant is "totally ashamed" and her child is now under a Safe Care Plan with which she is co-operating fully.

The lawyer said Lawther has now referred herself to an addictions programme.

District Judge Peter King said some of the statements made in the case were "quite harrowing".

He said the case was so concerning he had no hesitation imposing a suspended sentence.

The judge said he understood being a lone parent of a special needs child could be difficult, but it also brought with it a special responsibility.

He warned Lawther such an offence " cannot ever happen again".

The defendant had previously pleaded guilty to charges of being drunk in charge of a child under the age of seven; disorderly behaviour and three assaults, two of which were on police.

She was given three months in jail suspended for a year.

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