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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 21 January, 2020
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Girl (9) remains in critical condition after alleged assault by her parents five months ago, court hears

The child’s mother and father have been charged with child cruelty offences.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

A NINE-YEAR-old girl remains in a critical condition and “fully dependent for all her needs” after she was allegedly attacked by her parents in July, a court has heard.

The child was rushed to Temple Street Children’s Hospital on 2 July last after suffering a head injury, burns, bites, swelling as well as bruising, at her north Dublin home.

The 35-year-old mother and her husband, 37, were charged with child cruelty offences in August.

Last month, they were further charged with causing serious harm to the child, contrary to Section Four of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, which can carry a life sentence.

They applied for bail at Dublin District Court on that charge today but Detective Garda Aoife O’Brien objected citing the seriousness of the case and flight risk fears.

“The child remains in Temple Street Children’s Hospital in a critical condition as a result of injuries in this incident,” Detective Garda O’Brien told Judge Bryan Smyth.

The accused provided accounts which have allegedly been rebutted by gardaí who have obtained CCTV and phone data evidence, she said.

She said the woman provided a false version of her whereabouts on the date.

The girl suffered burns, bites, swelling and bruising and due to the location, pattern and the nature of the injuries, they were not accidental or self-inflicted, Detective Garda O’Brien said.

She told the bail hearing there was an up-to-date medical report and the child was “fully dependent for all her needs, feeding, bathing and toileting”.

She said the couple fled their home country and came to Ireland in 2012 without the child who, with a sibling, was left to live with relatives for a number of years.

She believed the accused would flee the jurisdiction if granted bail, and they would have assistance.

The court heard that for a number of years only the father visited the girl before they were reunited with their children in Ireland.

The defence said that was a result having to wait until their status in this country had been designated.

Detective Garda O’Brien agreed with their solicitor Daniel Hanahoe that the couple’s only other charges related to the same incident.

He said the terms flee and abandoned, used by the detective in her evidence, were disputed and the couple had moved here.

The detective said objections in relation to the father’s bail application were almost identical. She said a 999 was made two or three hours before emergency services were contacted. The call lasted three seconds and hung up, she said.

She also said the couple later left their home and provided false addresses. They also failed to answer phone calls when gardai tried to contact them, she said.

The solicitor said they stayed with a friend to be closer the hospital to visit the child. The detective said another false address had been provided.

Hanahoe submitted that there was no evidence to show they would not turn up if given bail, and they also had ties to the jurisdiction.

His clients disputed the garda’s version of events, and would abide by whatever conditions the court required.

Judge Smyth refused bail. He remanded them in continuing in custody to appear again in four weeks for a book of evidence to be completed.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has directed trial on indictment, meaning they will face trial in the Circuit Court.

The couple, who listened to the proceedings with the assistance of an interpreter, did not address the court today.

They were initially charged under Section 246 of the Children’s Act, for alleged treatment of the child at their north Dublin home, in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to her health or seriously to affect her being. It can, on conviction, carry a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment.

The woman, 35, has an additional charge for failing to seek medical assistance for the girl for a head injury.

Since the case began, their other children have since been placed in care.

The court has heard the husband was a qualified tradesman and had been in employment while the woman was a stay-at-home mother.

A reporting restriction order was made at the outset of the proceedings after the defence asked that their clients’ identities would not be reported, “given the sensitive nature of the charge”.

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Tom Tuite

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