Munster child abuse trial: Father tells gardaí that children had everything they wanted

The jury in the trial of three men and three women listened to transcripts of the man's interviews with gardaí following his arrest in March 2018
Munster child abuse trial: Father tells gardaí that children had everything they wanted

Isabel Hayes

A father accused of abusing and neglecting his children told gardaí that his kids “had everything they wanted”, a trial of six people has heard.

When asked by gardaí what a parent's first job is, the father replied that it is to protect their child, the Central Criminal Court trial heard on Tuesday. When asked if that was done, the man replied: “I don't know. Probably not and I didn't investigate about it.”

The jury in the trial of three men and three women listened to transcripts of the man's interviews with gardaí following his arrest in March 2018.

The six family members, who can't be named for legal reasons, are accused of abusing three children between 2014 and 2016. The accused are the parents, aunts and uncles of the children.

They range in ages from 27 to 56 and live in various locations in Munster.

The parents are also accused of neglecting five of their children. All of the accused have denied the charges against them.

Financial situation

When asked about the financial situation in the family, the man said he didn't work due to a medical condition. “It was hard enough. We would get everything for the children...I'd nearly go without fags to get the kids what they wanted.”

We would get everything for the children...I'd nearly go without fags to get the kids what they wanted

The man said his children “had everything they wanted - food, clean clothes.” When asked about the house he said it “was as clean as it could be with five kids”.

When asked why the children were removed from his care, the father said, “They reckoned a lack of hygiene...We used to bathe them twice a week.”

The man said the social workers were “nice people” who were trying to help him and his wife. When asked if he thought they would make up lies, he replied: “They would, I'd say.”

When gardaí put some of the abuse allegations one of his sons made about him to the man, he replied: “It's not true.” When asked if his son was lying, he replied: “He is.”

'Unbelievable wild'

Earlier in the interview, the father had described this child as being “unbelievable wild”. “Sometimes you'd believe him, sometimes you wouldn't.”

The man said he did not know where the abuse allegations were coming from, unless it was when the children were being babysat. He said he used to leave the children with some family members, including some of his co-accused.

He said he “never thought they would do anything to my child”. When it was put to him that something had been done to his kids, the man replied: “If it did, they didn't come to me about it.”

When asked what is the first job of a parent, the man said it was to “protect the child.” When asked by the interviewer if that was done, he replied: “I don't know. Probably not and I didn't investigate about it.”

Sixth child

In an earlier interview, the man told gardaí he didn't know his wife was pregnant with their sixth child, who the trial has heard was taken into care shortly after birth.

“I didn't know when she had her. I didn't even know [she] was pregnant with a baby,” the man said. “She arrived when I was in the toilet. [My wife] never told me she was pregnant.”

He later said he couldn't remember “the name she put on the child”.

The trial also heard on Tuesday that 66 devices which were seized by gardaí from the homes of the accused were analysed and found to have nothing of evidential value.

These devices included mobile phones, old mobile phones, tablets, USB sticks, digital cameras and video cameras, the lead investigator in the case told Eilis Brennan SC, prosecuting.

The items were seized after a number of search warrants were issued for the homes of the six accused in September 2017, the trial heard.

The phones were analysed by a specialist unit and were re-examined some time later after a software update. On both occasions, “nothing of evidential value was found”, the court heard.

Social media data

The inspector told the court that phone numbers and email addresses associated with the devices were identified and a request was made to access data held in the US in relation to Facebook, Microsoft and Google.

The US Department of Justice “did not accede to this request”, the inspector said.

The court heard that after one of the children briefly went missing from foster care in August 2017, his tablet and the tablets of two of his siblings, also in care, were examined by gardaí.

Nothing of evidential value was found in relation to these devices, the inspector said.

An email address linked to the boy was identified and a request was made to the US to access the data, but this was also refused, citing “improbable cause”.

Under cross-examination from Mark Nicholas SC, defending the father, the inspector said the accused persons co-operated during the search warrant. In relation to the devices seized, he said, “a lot of these only came into existence after the children had gone into care”.

He agreed that a photograph the girl previously said she had taken was not found on her tablet.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury.

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