A couple who were visibly drunk in public while looking after a four-year-old child were before Athy District Court on Tuesday last, February 12.
The man and the woman pleaded guilty to being drunk while in the charge of a child, who is under the age of seven. The couple cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.
The court heard that the couple, who face one month in prison, looked “very drunk” while in charge of the child on September 13, 2012, at 10.30pm, in Athy town. The girl came to attention of the gardai as she was being carried home by her mother (39) while the mother’s partner (also 39) carried a case of beer. Garda Sgt Thomas Harte, who followed them home and immediately contacted the HSE to put the child in care, told the court that the couple’s speech was slurred at the time.
Judge Desmond Zaidan said the mother was very fortunate that her child had been returned to her after ten days in care with the HSE.
“It is appalling,” he said. “A four-year-old child. It is so wrong. You are the mother you should know better. You are very fortunate your child has been returned to you.”
The court heard that the couple have since taken the pledge.
“The pledge means nothing,” said Judge Zaidan.
“I’ve no confidence in them - it’s all rhetoric. Do you realise the trauma you have caused your daughter? She was taken from her mammy into the arms of strangers for ten days. She is the victim here. Those ten days would have been very traumatic for her.”
The court were told that the child’s mother has no previous convictions but her partner has 39 convictions including those for drugs, theft, public order and criminal damage.
The solicitors for both defendants informed the court that this was a “very sharp lesson” and the couple have since spent time at the Poor Clares in Carlow.
Judge Zaidan adjourned the case for a probation report until May 28 next but said it would be very easy to send the male defendant to prison in light of his previous convictions.
“If I get a report to say that you are not fit to look after your own daughter I will get the HSE involved,” he added. “It is the lesser of two evils - your child is the victim here. I will wait for the report. I am concerned about their relationship with alcohol and abuse and the effects it will have on a four-year-old child.”
Both defendants are both unemployed and were granted legal aid.