Man ignored daughter’s pleas for help as mother lay dead in apartment for days during Covid pandemic

Child brought blankets and soup to deceased woman before going to neighbours for help as alcoholic father kept drinking

A chronic alcoholic who ignored his 11-year-old daughter’s pleas for assistance for her mother who lay dead in their apartment for up to four days during Covid restrictions has been jailed.

The court heard both of the girl’s parents were heavy drinkers and her father continued drinking despite the child pleading with him to help her mother after she collapsed.

The woman, who was in end stage alcoholism, died but the girl continued to attempt to care for her for some four days, bringing her blankets, food and soup before seeking help from neighbours.

The man, who is now sober, told gardaí he did not remember these events. He said alcoholism had turned him “from a human to a monster”. His daughter is now in the care of the State.


The 45-year-old pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of child cruelty on dates in 2020. He has no previous convictions. The maximum sentence for these offences is seven years imprisonment. Reporting restrictions apply in the case to protect the identity of the child.

Judge Martin Nolan said the only real issue in this case was whether the accused deserved to go to prison because of the neglect of his daughter.

The judge said the accused and his wife had severe alcohol problems and he did not deal appropriately with his spouse’s death “to put it in the mildest way.” He said he had afforded no care whatsoever to his child and what she endured was incredibly serious.

He said she had to take care of herself in a situation where she was not cared for at all and had the sight of her decomposing mother in front of her. He said she has suffered long-term psychological trauma as a result of what she endured. While she was doing well in care, the girl was having residual difficulties.

Judge Nolan said the mitigation included the man’s guilty pleas, co-operation, the absence of a criminal record and a work history. The court took into account to some degree his alcohol problem but noted the accused had rendered himself into the state where he was unable to look after his child.

He said the man’s misbehaviour was too serious to avoid a custodial sentence and imposed a three-year sentence with the final 20 months suspended.

An investigating garda told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting, that the events came to light when the girl went to a neighbour’s house and told them she thought her mother was dead.

Emergency services visited the apartment and noticed a strong smell as they entered. They found a state of disarray with clothes, food, rubbish and alcoholic drinks everywhere. The woman was facedown on the ground in the sittingroom with a blanket over her.

The court heard the accused was sitting on the couch and was intoxicated to such extent that he could not comprehend what was occurring. He gave no response when he was told his wife had died.

The child said she and her mother had both asked the accused for help to get her up. The woman died from inhaling the contents of her stomach due to acute alcohol intoxication.

The court heard there was background of extreme child neglect leading up to these events, with the girl fending for herself, going to the shop and being unable to wash herself as there was no hot water.

The child had not logged on to homeschooling during the Covid-19 lockdown. These events coincided with the return to school and the child had herself organised to go to school on two days while her mother lay on the floor.

The man later told gardaí he had little recollection of the events due to his drinking. He said the three of them previously had a good family life, when he and his wife were not drinking, but their addiction had gone out of control before the incident.

When photos were shown to him of his wife’s decomposing body, he told gardaí: “I don’t remember her like this, in this condition, I am a monster.”

He said the child had addicts as parents, they had been unable to take care of themselves and he was ashamed. He said addiction had been stronger than his values and stronger than his wife and she had paid for it with her life. He said he thinks her death saved him.

“It’s hard to understand an addicted person when you are not addicted. We are blind then, not a normal person,” he said.

A victim impact statement and psychological report in relation to the child were handed into court but not read out. Ms Dempsey said the child indicated she had been damaged for life.