A MOTHER who denied her child’s father access in violation of a court-appointed agreement was sentenced to a month in jail last week 8 November.
At a session of Family Law in Athy District Court, Judge Desmond Zaidan learned that a custody order signed by himself on 28 June was not being adhered to by the mother, and so the father brought her back to court in an effort to force her to honour it.
Barrister Joe Coonan told the court how the mother had not turned up to Athy Garda Station [the neutral changeover location as agreed in June] “the last five times”.
“Do you really want me to send you to prison?” the judge asked of the mother.
“Because if I do Tusla will just hand over the child to him,” he pointed out.
“There’s a very fine line between personal relationships as lovers, and as parents, but this child has rights,” he added.
“Time flies, and when he turns 18 he won’t forgive you for alienating his dad,” said the judge.
“I didn’t make the decision [the named boy] did, it’s very sad,” offered the mother.
Mr Coonan then revealed that the mother had appealed the Interim Access Order to the High Court, but then had not shown up. On another occasion she had called the emergency services on a trivial matter.
“You are going to ruin your child. Seven years old and you’re calling the emergency services? Have you lost the plot?” asked the judge
The mother then made a serious allegation of physical violence against her ex-partner, on their child, however Mr Coonan was quick to counter with: “Tusla and the HSE directed no prosecution, there was no case to answer”.
At this point Judge Zaidan made his mind up.
“I’m going to send her to jail for one month for breach of the court order,” he said.
He then gave her a lifeline, and set her appeal bond at 200.
“If she doesn’t turn up for the appeal in the Circuit Court, she goes straight to jail,” he instructed the sergeant.
The mother then began remonstrating and eye-rolling as she was led temporarily to the dock.
“Her reaction is beyond the Richter Scale!” commented the judge.
“If she’s taking it this seriously, why didn’t she show up for her appeal?” he wondered.
“She seems to bury her head in the sand,” he added.
A short while later, her solicitor Jacqui McManus brought the €200 to the court clerk to release her client from custody, and to set up a appeal against sentence in the current sittings of Naas Circuit Court.