A mother whose children were temporarily taken from her after a woman made malicious 999 calls, has criticised the suspended sentence handed down to the offender.
Samantha Kennedy, of Main Street in Ballineen, Co Cork appeared before Bandon District Court in West Cork last week, where she admitted making 10 calls to gardaí over a two-hour period identifying herself to gardaí as a specific young girl amid claims she was being abused in the home.
The court heard that the calls were made between 4.37am and 6.25am on February 14th 2020.
Gardaí took calls from Ms Kennedy (31) where she purported to be a certain child living in a house in East Cork.
The court heard that Ms Kennedy put on the voice of a child and said that she and her sibling were being abused.
Gardaí, as was their duty, invoked Section 12 powers and removed the two children from the family home. The children were examined at Cork University Hospital and were found to be unharmed.
Gardai downloaded the 999 calls which they traced to Ms Kennedy whom the court was told was, at that time, in a relationship with the father of one of the children in the house in East Cork.
Ms Kennedy made full admissions that she had made all the calls and that they were false allegations. Samantha Kennedy said she would take the calls back if she could.
Judge Colm Roberts described the behaviour of the woman as both serious and cruel.
Ms Kennedy told the court she was facing eviction from her home. She said she felt "really bad" for her behaviour. The court was informed of certain difficulties in her life.
Judge Roberts imposed sentences of five months and three months in relation to the calls, both suspended for two years, and placed her under the supervision of the Probation Service.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Neil Prendeville show, on Cork's Red FM, the mother of the two children said she was horrified by what had occurred.
She recalled being asleep in bed at 6.30am on February 14th, 2020 when her phone rang. A garda told her that officers from Anglesea Street were at her door and would she mind going down to answer.
She was perplexed to be told that gardaí wanted to speak to her about calls her daughter had allegedly made.
"They said my daughter had been making calls. I said 'my daughter is in bed. She has been in bed since eight o clock the previous evening.' I went upstairs to get my daughter out of bed to show that she was in bed.
"The only phone in the house was my own. They said 'look under the child care act we are taking the children. This has to be investigated because of the nature of the calls.'
"I was shocked. My heart was broken. They left. I went in to the kitchen and started crying because I didn't know what to do. The kids are gone. My first thought is 'do I need a solicitor?’
"The gardaí told me to hold tight and wait for Tusla to be in contact with me. The morning is a blur. I don't have much recollection. Tusla did ring about 10.30am.
"The only thought I remember is 'I need to get my kids back. I need to get it sorted.'
"Tusla were so helpful. They were absolutely fantastic."
Tusla told her she had been accused of sexually and physically abusing her two children. She went in to shock.
"I was like 'oh my God no. I would never harm my children.' They could see the genuine reaction on my face.”
The woman gave Tusla names and numbers of doctors her children attended.
They explained that her children would need to be examined with the subsequent examination showing that the children were unharmed.
She said thankfully her children were in good form in hospital. Her young son even told a nurse that he wanted chips and sausages for breakfast.
"He is a character. They were oblivious to what was going on. I was running on sheer adrenaline. I was absolutely shocked.
The day was a blur. I have a fantastic bond with them (my children). The next day I had to come in and make a statement and sign a consent form that if they needed to interview the children they could."
The mother said she was shocked when it emerged that the malicious 999 calls had been made by the defendant.
She said that what particularly hurt her was that a child's voice was put on at a time when her daughter was still nonverbal.
The mother of two said she feels upset and anger at the sentence.
"I couldn't leave my house before we knew who did it because I was afraid when I walked out of who was judging me. I knew there was a court case coming. I made my impact statement in June of last year but heard nothing since.
"The impact it has had on my family has not been taken in to account. She certainly hasn't said sorry to me and my children."