A Lithuanian woman who tried to strangle her daughter over fears her children would be “taken into care and abused’’ has been spared a prison sentence.
Judge Piers Grant told the woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter. that it was “not appropriate to impose a prison sentence’’ given her mental health difficulties at the time, and sentenced her to three years on probation.
The 38-year-old mother, who lived in Newtownards, Co Down, pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of her then four-year-old daughter and assaulting her husband occasioning him actual bodily harm.
The incident happened in October 2015 when the family home was in a “pretty chaotic scene” due to building works.
Charles MacCreanor QC, prosecuting, told Downpatrick Crown Court: “It is clear that in the days before this offence the building work was having an impact on the mother. She was concerned for their children and there was also the build up of dust.’’
On the morning of October 12, her husband woke up to hear one of the children crying. The defendant was standing by the bed and she was saying to her husband ‘they have to die’.
“She said that the children would be taken away from them by social services and that if they were taken away they ‘would be abused’,” the prosecutor told the court.
“She then said to her husband: ‘We have to kill them’.”
The prosecution counsel said that her husband got up and pushed her away from the bed and described her as getting “more and more angry and she tried to grab the child but he wouldn’t let her. He threatened to call the police and pushed her towards the door”.
The defendant went out of the room and the father tended to his children only to be “struck on the back of the head with an LCD television”.
“He fell to the floor and appears to have been knocked unconscious. When he came to, he saw his wife’s hands around the neck of their four-year-old daughter and she was strangling her.
“He got up, grabbed her arms and took the arms away from the child’s neck. He managed to remove the defendant from the room for 10 minutes.”
Police arrived and the mother was arrested and taken into custody.
A psychiatrist who later examined her noted that at the time of the incident she had suffered a “serious breakdown ... with matters coming to a head that morning’’.
A few days after being remanded in custody for the offences, the court heard the woman made a “serious attempt to end her own life”.
The children were placed in foster care until February when they were reunited with their father.