#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Friday 3 December 2021

Father accused of child cruelty told gardaí he did not know how his daughter was injured

The trial is being held at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Image: Shutterstock

A FATHER WHO is accused of child cruelty of his daughter denied to gardaí he tortured the child and said he didn’t know where her multiples injuries came from, his trial has heard.

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 then-nine-year-old child was hospitalised with life changing injuries on 2 July 2019. The parents, who are originally from north Africa, cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

The couple moved to Ireland around 2011 and in March 2019, their eldest daughters, including the alleged victim, moved to Ireland to join them.

On day ten of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Detective Sergeant Eoin McDonnell gave evidence of arresting the father on 7 August 2019. The jury then were given transcripts of the defendant’s interviews by gardaí.

Detectives put it to the accused that “you or your wife or both of you together tortured [the named child]”. The accused replied “no” and again replied “no” when asked if he was protecting somebody else.

Asked “how could you not know…she was being tortured”, the accused replied “I don’t know”. Asked “who hurt your little girl”, he again said “I don’t know”.

Referring to a family photo of the child on the beach, detectives told the accused his “beautiful” daughter was “never going to be this happy again” and asked him “how did she end up like that. 40 injuries, eleven of them burns, bites. She was happy 4 days before”.

The accused replied “I don’t know”, a reply he made again and again to questions by detectives.

He said he had no idea how his daughter got the injuries and said he asked his wife and she told him that she didn’t know. He said he believed his wife.

Detectives put it to the accused that his neighbour told gardaí that she heard screaming coming from the house and said “she tells story of a woman out of control”. The accused replied “I don’t know”.

He replied the same when asked “does your wife have anger issues” but said she was “very good with children” when detectives asked if his wife can cope with children.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

Additional evidence 

The accused told gardaí that when he arrived home on the evening of 2 July, his daughter was lying on the ground in his bedroom and that he moved her into the living room.

He said he spoke to her and asked her to move her hand if she could hear him and she moved her hand. He said he performed CPR on her, having seen it carried out at a local sports club, and called 999.

Gardaí put it to him that he arrived home at 3.17 that afternoon and was at home from that time and that this timeframe could be attributed to the alleged assault. The accused denied this, saying “I wasn’t there at that time”.

Asked about the burn marks on his daughter’s feet he told gardaí: “I swear to god, I didn’t see that”. Detectives put it to him that he told them previously that they may have been self-inflicted.

He replied “when we see her behaving before, she not normal, sometimes she hit the wall.”

He also told gardaí that his daughter was “weak” and that people would call at her saying “you walk like a turkey”. A school teacher earlier testified that the child was in her class and did not appear to have any problems walking properly.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The accused told gardaí: “I was thinking of going to the doctor. My friend noticed she was not well. She is not sleeping or is sleeping lightly; when I call her she answers straight away.”

“My parents tell her she fell, my mum took her to psychology.”

A primary school teacher told Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, that the child was enrolled in the school around June 2019, after some administrative delays.

She said the child was “a lovely girl who was quiet” and was a little confused by her new environment. She said her English was ok and she was “keen to get involved” with class activities and was “a pleasure to deal with”.

Asked if the child showed any behaviour issues in class, the witness said no. She said the child did her work, adding “she liked maths, she got her maths done, I was quite impressed”.

She said she never noticed any issues with her ability to straighten her arms and said she was able to walk properly. She confirmed that the child was absent from school for seven days and attended school for ten days in June.

She was absent for four days in mid-June and the reason given to the school was illness. She was absent again a week later for two days and the reason given was that she fell on the playground.

She was absent for another day in June and no reason was provided to the school on that occasion.

About the author:

Declan Brennan

Read next: