A 44-year-old woman has been given a one month prison sentence for leaving “grossly offensive and menacing” messages on the phone of her child’s foster-mother.
Describing the situation as “very distressing” and “not easy for anybody”, Judge Eamon O’Brien made the sentence concurrent to a 17 month sentence she is already serving.
The woman, who appeared in court in a white, long-sleeved t-shirt and wearing a long green religious scapular, faced three charges of leaving messages, while charges of harassment against her were struck out.
Inspector Jarlath Folan read from the foster-mother’s statement which detailed how on the date in question phone-calls began at 10am and went on all day, coming every two minutes.
A number of messages referred to threats to burn her car and house, telling her she’d be “burnt out”, and threats to harm her.
Reference was made to two pets which she said the child’s birth mother should not have known about and she was told she’d be “judged at the gates of hell”.
The foster mother was called “a dirty rotten bitch” and an “out and out witch” and the defendant claimed in one message “I’ve been stoned, I’ve been whipped by you”.
In her statement the foster mother said she was afraid the child’s mother would come to the house that weekend.
A call was also made to a social worker who had worked with the defendant in the past but was no longer involved with her.
The call which came while she was dealing with someone else and so was unanswered, referred to her as “a dirtbird, c***, and vermin”.
When she reported the call to her senior, she was told to inform Gardaí.
During interview the defendant admitted making the calls. She has 12 previous convictions and has received sentences for public order offences, assault, and trespass.
Mr John Quinn said his client had had a nervous breakdown and had given up her child in the child’s best interest.
However, he said she was “seriously traumatised” by the “unselfish act” and deprivation of access had caused her behaviour, which she regrets.
He said she accepted the foster parents were doing a good job.
“It does appear as if there was a lot of mal-intent, but I would suggest she was quite unwell during those incidents and didn’t mean distress or harm.”
“The ill effects of the trauma of the absence of her child showed itself in this matter.”
He put the incident down to “the legacy of her illness” and said there was no intent behind the statements which “she openly withdraws”.
Inspector Jarlath Folan said the incidents, which occurred while the defendant was on temporary release, had caused an “extremely stressful, worrying time” for the injured party and her family.
The judge rose a number of times during the hearing when the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, became disturbed and disruptive.
“It is unfortunate that others have suffered,” said the judge who added “I appreciate it’s difficult for everyone, like all these cases. They’re all sad cases.”