*Photograph: John Mangan
A CLARE teenager said that she reported the neglect of her mother so that her young sister wouldn’t have the young life she has had.
At Ennis Circuit Court, the teenager told the court, “I spoke out years ago to everyone so that I could save my little sister from this”.
The teenager’s younger sister is now aged six and the teenager told the court, “I would rather stay there for the rest of my life than have my little sister suffer the way I did”.
In response to the teenager’s victim impact statement, Judge Francis Comerford heaped praise on the teenager saying “how impressive” her response to the case is.
He said that the impetus for her taking action was not out of selfishness or a desire for revenge “but that another child would be protected”.
Judge Comerford said that the teenager had shown great compassion and spirit to come forward. He said, “She spoke out so that she could save her little sister from this”.
In the case, the girls’ mother – now aged 47 – pleaded guilty to three ‘child cruelty’ charges from three different periods under Section 246 of the Children’s Act of allowing a child to be exposed in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child’s health or seriously to affect her wellbeing.
The counts cover three periods from 2009 to 2012, 2012 to 2014 and 2019 to 2021.
In her victim impact statement, the teenager said that her biggest fear in life is that she would turn out like her mother.
She said, “It’s hard to say but I am and was extremely embarrassed of her my whole life”.
“I never wanted friends from school over because she was a mess, the insecurity of not knowing what she was doing and where she was gone. And when she used to go away for hours and leave me to mind my sister, I didn’t know what to expect when she came home”.
She added, “Nobody really believed me that all of this was going on for a long time. I never felt heard but I feel like I have raised myself pretty good. I have a good notion of what is right and wrong. Some can say this is an exaggeration but I did raise myself and my sister”.
She said that her mother “was the adult at home but I was the one acting like it”.
She said, “I wasn’t the one who left her children to go out partying – I was the child that badly needed someone to guide me but she wasn’t there for me or my sister. She would stay in her room and tell us to go away. She wouldn’t have any patience with my sister at all….I constantly feel like I’m going to be abandoned and left behind”.
She said, “I always feel like she’s there and she won’t go away. I feel like I will never get out of this toxic cycle and I’m scared for my little sister to encounter the same life that I had”.
Judge Comerford said that the mother has her demons in life that has brought her to these offences.
Judge Comerford said that the mother has displayed a lack of insight into her offences.
Counsel for the mother, Patrick Whyms BL said that the case was quite complex and involved voluminous disclosure.
He said that his client is a recovering alcoholic and there was a long period of non-offending and that came about as a result of the mother addressing her problems.
Mr Whyms said that his own client is a very vulnerable person.
Mr Whyms said that his client has caused harm and there is no doubt about that but continues to address her problems.
Mr Whyms said the risk of re-offending is minimal as his client no longer lives with the two girls.
Judge Comerford remanded the woman on continuing bail for sentencing next month at Ennis Circuit Court.