13 Aug 2022

'One of the worst cases of child neglect' to come before the court

'One of the worst cases of child neglect' to come before the court

Tusla has closed the case file on a married couple involved in what Judge Catherine Staines described as one of the worst cases of child neglect she has ever seen, even though the family is currently homeless with no State supports.

The judge also ordered Tusla to appear before Portlaosie District Court due to the gravity of the case and to explain its actions.

The couple, a 31-year-old male and 30-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children, were both charged with three counts of neglecting a child, at a location in Laois on May 13/14, 2018.

On that date, gardaí discovered a ten-month-old baby and a two-year-old child alone in the house unsupervised.

The ten-month-old was saturated in urine and the two-year-old was smeared in faeces. There were dirty nappies strewn around and open alcohol containers in the house, as well as evidence of cocaine use.

The children were subsequently taken into the care of the State, but because of a change in the couple’s circumstances the children are now back with them and the family are living in a hotel in Dublin.

“This is outrageous, I’m shocked, absolutely shocked,” said Judge Staines at last week’s district court.

She made the comment after learning that the children have been returned to the parents and Tusla has closed their file, even though the family is homeless and they have no social worker.

“I don’t know what to say, this is one of the worst cases of child neglect I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Judge Staines said that at the time that Tusla closed the file, the family had been living with relatives, but the parties have now fallen out and the family has no support.

The judge said that one of the three children has cerebral palsey and another has autism. The mother is now expecting a fourth child.

“I have to think of these children,” said Judge Staines. “How can Tusla close the file?”

She said that both of the accused had been assessed at a high risk of reoffending, due to their substance misuse, unemployment and poor education.

Judge Staines requested an urgent up to date report from Tusla and also said she wanted the social worker to be present in court on the next date.

If the social worker is not present, Judge Staines said a court summons would issued.

“I want to hear are these children safe and being properly cared for, I can’t accept that the file is closed,” said Judge Staines.

The judge also directed the gardaí to inspect the hotel in Dublin where the family is currently residing.

The matter was adjourned to October 3 next.

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