Couple charged with child neglect have 'loving relationship' with their children

Tusla continuing to work with family

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Portlaoise Courthouse meeting annoys Laois councillors

Case was heard today at Portlaoise District Court.

Tusla are continuing to work with a family involved in what Judge Catherine Staines said was one of the worst child neglect cases to come before the court, with the married couple described as having a loving relationship with their children.

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.

When the case came before her last week, Judge Catherine Staines said she was “absolutely shocked” to learn that the three children had been returned to the parents and Tusla had closed their file, even though the family is homeless and they have no social worker.

Describing it as “one of the worst cases of child neglect I’ve ever seen,” 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.

At today’s (Thursday, October 3) court, Judge Staines met with a representative of Tusla and a social worker in her chambers before the court began.

When the case came before the court later this morning, Judge Staines said that she had met with a social worker and a representative of Meitheal (a case coordination process run by Tusla to assist families who require multi-agency intervention).

The social worker had met with the family on a weekly basis until June and described the couple as having a loving relationship with their children. The judge said that the family was being looked after by Meitheal and Meitheal will arrange for a family support worker to come in three times a week to visit with the family.

She said it was an appalling situation for the couple to be living in a hotel room with three children, one of whom has cerebral palsey and one with special needs.

The judge said that the father was doing everything possible and was cooperating, however Judge Staines expressed her concerns about the mother’s mental well being. She directed the mother to provide urinalysis and keep all her antenatal appointments.

The court heard that the couple are expecting their fourth child, who is due in January 2020. 

Judge Staines said the father was cooperating fully and doing the best he could.

The father was put on a 12-month probation bond

The case of the mother was adjourned to 14 November for an up to date report.

Details of the offence are that at a location in Laois on May 13/14, 2018, 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.

Fluid was leaking from the ceiling, which was caused by rubbish upstairs. The woman had left the house the night before, leaving the children with the man. Others then arrived at the house for a party.

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.