A MAN who was found guilty of cruelty to his own son by assaulting him, exposing him to open heroin use and leaving him to sleep on the floor was sentenced to one year of imprisonment today.
That sentence will be consecutive to a drugs sentence being served by the accused.
The case came before the Court of Appeal in Cork today by way of an appeal against an entirely suspended sentence imposed by Judge Tom O’Donnell at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.
Mr Justice John Edwards said: “Great weight should be attached to the reasoning of the trial judge, particularly one as experienced as Judge O’Donnell who is especially known for his great empathy and humanity."
Defence barrister, Brian McInerney, had alluded to the experience of the judge in dealing with child-related cases, not least as a result of the extensive period of time he has presided over juvenile courts.
Mr Justice Edwards said the child cruelty offence, in this case, occurred when the defendant and his partner were in the throes of a very serious addiction.
The child expressed the aspiration during his father’s trial that the family would one day be reunited.
Mr Justice Edwards said the Court of Appeal believed the sentencing judge “somewhat lost focus on the severity of the offence.”
They acknowledged that he was rightly concerned about the boy’s aspiration in terms of the future of the family but he said the sentencing failed to meet the gravity and personal circumstances of offender.
A sentence of one year was then imposed to run consecutively with the unrelated sentence being served by the accused.
An order was made not to identify the parties in coverage of today’s appeal.