*Family Law Court Ennis

A “shocking forgery” has been handed into a court falsely claiming that a mother, who is alleged to have drugged her children with a view to feigning their illness, had won custody of her children.

At the Family Law Court, Judge Alec Gabbett called on TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency (CFA) to investigate the matter.

In court, Judge Gabbett outlined the details of the case and said that the ‘fraudulent’ letter purported to be from a solicitor from the Legal Aid Board telling his client and the mother concerned that she had won sole custody of her children.

Judge Gabbett said that the letter was handed into a judge in a court in another county where he said that the presiding judge said that the letter was a clear attempt to mislead the court and could potentially be a criminal matter.

Judge Gabbett said that the mother concerned “is a very, very manipulative person”.

He said: “This is a woman who allegedly drugged a child with a view to feigning illness. The child for a number of years was completely and utterly helpless – so much so that when the child’s father brought her to be examined in hospital it was the first time that the child was awake for an examination.”

Judge Gabbett likened the case to the Gypsy Rose case in the US where a woman, Dee Dee Blanchard falsely claimed that her daughter, Gypsy Rose had suffered from numerous illnesses as a child.

In the case which gained worldwide attention, Gypsy Rose Blanchard was released from prison at the end of last month after serving eight years after pleading guilty to second degree murder for the killing of her mother in 2015.

Judge Gabbett said: “This is almost on all fours with the Gypsy Rose case in the US – this is a case where the children were effectively drugged.”

Judge Gabbett said: “The mother tried to feign illness for the second child – the second child allegedly had a heart condition but the child didn’t have any heart condition.”

Judge Gabbett said: “The mother is applying for custody and she tries to say she got custody.”

Judge Gabbett said that the circumstances of the case “is probably one of the most serious cases I have ever dealt with in the family law court”.

The children are in the care of their paternal grandmother and solicitor for the grandmother, Ann Walsh said that the forged letter had caused “ huge upset” to her client.

Judge Gabbett said that the mother in the case has been represented by the Legal Aid Board and the false Legal Aid Board letter told its client that the outcome of the October custody hearing “was in your favour and I am delighted to confirm that Judge Gabbett gave you sole custody of your children with a staged return to be supervised by TUSLA so as not to cause any further distress on the children”.

Judge Gabbett said: “The letter is a fraud. I have to say that the letter will win no prizes for forgery – it is a shocking forgery. It is very badly written, has spelling mistakes and has scans and logos picked up from the Internet.

He said: “It is extremely serious, furnishing a fraudulent letter, a forgery and a letter purportedly from an officer of the court and employed by the Legal Aid Board.”

Judge Gabbett said that the TUSLA social work department had highlighted the submission of the falsified document to the court in the other county.

Judge Gabbett said: “I want to know what TUSLA are doing about this. We can’t have people running around the courts of Ireland handing up letters like this and there being no consequences.”

Solicitor for TUSLA, Kevin Sherry said that the matter is receiving priority and Judge Gabbett asked that Sgt John Burke of Ennis Garda Station remain in court to hear the facts of the case.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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