Gardai planning to bring neglect case against parents for raising family of thieves
Gardai are hoping to bring a neglect case against the parents of more than a dozen children being reared into a ‘criminal family’, the Irish Mail on Sunday has learned.
The MoS has reported extensively on the family over the past year and how out of the large family, eight children are in the criminal justice system with the younger ones following suit.
The children – who live in appalling conditions at their Midlands home – are trained to shoplift, with a judge remarking last year how parents have ‘abdicated themselves of any responsibility of bringing their children up in society’.
Judge Seamus Hughes said: ‘I believe the children are actively involved in theft and bringing the spoils back home to be shared.’
Children aged from just seven in the family are known to be involved in shoplifting, with an eight-year-old stealing the phone of an autistic boy last summer.
Gardai are so concerned that they have sent several referrals to Tusla in relation to conditions at the family home. The children have no duvet covers on their beds or clean clothes. The bath is full of rubbish and the toilet and sinks are not working.
Now, the MoS has learned, gardai are preparing to bring charges of neglect against the children’s parents.
A source told how evidence is being gathered for a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Children’s Act, 2001, states: ‘It shall be an offence for any person who has the custody, charge or care of a child wilfully to assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child, or cause or procure or allow the child to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child’s health or seriously to affect his or her wellbeing.’
A person convicted of such an offence can either be jailed or fined.
Just before Christmas, the family came under threat of eviction after failing to pay rent and were preparing to barricade themselves into their home. The eviction, however, was put on hold at the last minute.
In November, a teenager in the family was jailed for nine months following a litany of theft offences and was sent to Oberstown Detention Centre. The teen was traumatised by the experience and spent the early days of their incarceration crying.
The teenager’s 13-year-old sibling was briefly taken into care on the same day after the court heard they were continuing to steal from shops from which they were banned from entering.
The judge said the 13-year-old was too young to be jailed and ordered them to attend school, but it later emerged they had only turned up to four days of school over four weeks before Christmas.
Gardai believe a planned new law preventing adults from grooming children to commit crime will help them ‘immensely’ in the case of this family when it is eventually passed.
The Exploitation of Children in the Commission of Offences Bill will make it an offence to compel, induce or invite a child to engage in crime and carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
While the law currently allows for an adult who causes a child to commit a crime to be found guilty as the principal offender, it does not recognise the harm done to the child. Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the new Bill was designed to address this issue.
The adult can be prosecuted even if the child’s attempt to commit a crime is unsuccessful.
Children are being reared by the ‘criminal’ parents in this case. The girls’ mother has almost 100 previous convictions, mostly for theft, and appeared in court in relation to her own offences on the same day as her children last November.
A Garda sergeant who arrested one of the children last year told the court he was ‘so concerned’ by the conditions he saw in the home that he enacted Section 12 of the Child Care Act.
Sgt Darren Conlon told how some of the children in the house shouted threats and abuse when he arrived, a toy taser was lit up and one child came with a bar to hit him.
‘The mother is as incapable of providing care as the father,’ he said.
Judge Hughes told the mother
‘You’re a criminal yourself.’Forge of Empires – Free Online Game|