I find it hard to agree with the ISPCC when it says that a mother’s 18-month sentence for child-neglect was too lenient. This woman, now 34, was abducted as a 14-year-old by a 24-year-old man who went on to rape her and later to rape the children they had together. This woman has never known anything but violence, abuse and squalor, and I can’t see how a prison sentence will achieve anything.
It’s a dreadful case, going back to 2001 when the family arrived in this country from Britain. Because the parents used a variety of aliases while travelling around and because they never applied for Welfare, the family stayed under the radar until 2007 when they turned up at a Garda station in circumstances that are not entirely clear from the reports. The children were almost feral, one of them eating the food offered by the Gardai so fast that he vomited. They had never been washed and they didn’t know how to use a toilet. The five children ranged in age from 4 to 11, which means that at least two of them were born in Ireland, under circumstances that are also not clear from the news reports.
The father has already been convicted of neglect, assault and rape, while the mother was described in court as someone with a dysfunctional upbringing and an inability to cope, which is putting it mildly.
However, the judge’s comments about disregarding her “sacred duty” seem a little detached from reality. After all, this woman didn’t grow up in the sort of privileged and protected circumstances enjoyed by Judge Martin Nolan. This woman grew up in an environment of ignorance, violence and coercion since she was a child, without the opportunity to learn about anything but survival, and certainly not about sacred duties.
Reading between the lines, the mother has been complicit in the cruelty, to the extent that her younger children refuse to contact her. The eldest boy has had to be kept apart from other children his age due to his pathological need to be accepted, leading to highly inappropriate behaviour and bullying.
What these children went through is beyond imagining and I can see why a court would decide to jail the mother, but at the same time, I can’t see what the point is of putting the unfortunate woman behind bars. By all means, let her never again have control of children, and immediately remove any further children from her, but I suspect that the level of awareness in this case is very low. It seems to me that at the very least, a convicted person should be able to connect the punishment with the crime, and in this instance, I don’t know whether that is possible.
As for the father, it doesn’t bother me what they do with him. They can shoot him if they like, or they can electrocute him. They can drown him. They can poison him. They can squash him under a bulldozer. I’m not fussy as long as they eliminate him permanently.
This reminded me of another case three years ago when a mother was convicted of sexuallly abusing and starving her children. The post is HERE. In that case, the two parents seemed to be acting together to abuse the children.