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Sentencing deferred in case of Cork mother who smothered son

Diane Ward attempted to take her own life the night she smothered her 8-year-old son Anthony with a pillow.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

DIANE WARD, THE mother of 8-year-old Anthony who was found dead in his home in Charleville, Co Cork, has had her sentencing adjourned until 7 July.

The deferral is to allow Ward undergo psychiatric care at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, with a view to arranging a release.

Ward, of Harrison Place, Charleville, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her son last month.

A coroner’s hearing heard in 2012 that Anthony’s neck had been compressed on 3 September, 2012, the night before he was due to return to school.

Anthony’s body was discovered by Gardaí and family members just minutes after he was due back at school. He was to begin Third Class at the local primary.

“Bury us together”

Detective Sergeant Michael Corbet of Mallow Garda Station told the sentencing hearing today that gardaí were notified on the morning. When two gardaí arrived at the house, Ward was sitting on the bed with Anthony’s body beside her.

She had ingested a large amount of paracetamol from an envelope before she smothered her son with a pillow. Det Sgt Corbet told the court that Ward had written a suicide note, in which she asked that the two be buried together.

“No grievance”

Det Sgt Corbet read out a statement from Mark Ryan, Anthony’s father, in which he said that he “had no grievance with Diane Ward”.

“She is a good person who made a mistake. I wish her well and have no grievance with Diane.

“Wherever she goes, I wish her well.”

Doctor Helen O’Neill, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital said that Ward was “devastated” and had a “genuine intention” of taking her own life the night she killed her son.

Dr O’Neill agreed that Ward suffers Recurring Depressive Disorder and had tried to take her own life on two previous occasions.

She said that Anthony was “the centre of his mother’s world” and it would take “considerable time” to come to terms with his death.

Release

Speaking today at the sentencing in Dublin, Justice Barry White said that he was minded not to impose a custodial sentence in this case, provided the necessary work is done and supports put in place for Ward.

He said while it “wouldn’t be fair on Ms Ward to open to the gates and let her leave today”, he said it would be preferable if she could return to her own community.

A case conference will be held on 7 July.

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