Mother ‘cracked up’ and hit children with belt


A mother who admitted slapping her children with a belt has had a six month sentence suspended for two years.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her children, pleaded guilty to four charges of common assault on October 23 and 24, 2012.

Derry Magistrates Court heard the victims were aged four and seven-years-old at the time of the incident and are now in the care of Social Services.

Police were called after a teacher noticed bruising on the four-year-old’s leg. When he was asked what had happened he told his teacher that his mother had hit him with a belt.

The mother was arrested and during police interview claimed she had noticed bruising on her son’s leg, but ‘dismissed it’ as her children had been playing wrestling, hitting and kicking at each other.

She was interviewed a second time and admitted she ‘cracked-up’ because there was food on the floor when she got up from her bed and her sons were throwing eggs at a fence.

She admitted hitting both of her sons with the belt.

Defence counsel Steven Mooney told the court this offence happened at a time when his client was addicted to prescription medication and her parenting skills were ‘wholly inadequate’.

He added that the woman ‘disciplined her children in an outrageous fashion’.

The barrister told the court his client has been on remand for a ‘significant’ period of time in relation to other offences and her children are not due to be returned to her.

Suspending the six month sentence, District Judge Barney McElholm said ‘there is no doubt her parenting skills left a lot to be desired, even without resorting to violence to chastise her children’.

He said if a mother did not get up from her bed, ‘the children are going to feed themselves and play and leave things lying around’.

He said the children are now ‘safe’ and while the case is ‘deserving’ of an immediate custodial sentence he had to take into account the amount of time the woman has been on remand.