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Deliberations underway in trial of parents accused of neglect and cruelty of daughter

The child is now dependent on carers for her basic daily needs.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A JURY HAS begun deliberating in the trial of two parents accused of the neglect and cruelty of their nine-year-old daughter who was left with life-changing brain injuries.

The Dublin based 39-year-old man and his 36-year-old wife have pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault causing serious harm and three charges of child cruelty at the family home in Dublin on dates between 28 June and 2 July 2019.

The child was found unconscious at the family home on 2 July. Once hospitalised she was found to have multiple bruises, cuts, bite marks and burns across her body and had bleeding on the brain. She is now dependent on carers for her basic daily needs.

The accused are originally from north Africa and cannot be identified to protect the identity of the complainant.

On day twelve of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, the jury of six men and five women began its deliberations after being directed in the law by Judge Martin Nolan.

At around 3pm the jury foreperson asked Judge Nolan if evidence of alleged neglect was relevant to the charge against the father of assault causing serious harm on 2 July which relates to the brain damage. She asked if it was necessary for the accused to have been physically present when the trauma which caused the damage occurred.

Judge Nolan told the jury that everyone in the case agreed that the father wasn’t present at the house at the time of the alleged serious assault which rendered the child unconscious.

He said it the prosecution are alleging that he acted in common design with the mother as part of a joint enterprise to change the behaviour of the child through physical chastisement. He said it is the State’s case that in the minds of the parents their child was misbehaving, perhaps due to the involvement of a spirit.

He told jurors they needed to decide what took place in the house on 2 July and if the mother did cause the damage by assaulting the child. He said that they then must decide beyond reasonable doubt if her actions were “within the plan” of “physical chastisement” alleged by the State to be shared by both defendants.

The foreman also asked to receive transcripts of the testimony of the siblings of the alleged victim and transcripts of their initial statements to gardaí.

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In their statements, the two children told gardaí that their sister had fallen in the shower that morning. In his evidence to the court, the girl’s younger brother said that this was a lie and that his mother had told him before the ambulance came to say it.

Judge Nolan told jurors that they could listen back to a recording of the testimony given at trial.

The jury will resume deliberations tomorrow morning having deliberated for around three hours so far.

About the author:

Declan Brennan

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