Probation for mother who let injured son go untreated

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A young mother who admitted failing to get help for her then infant son in pain from a number of fractures, has been freed on two years probation.

The 26-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her now four-year-old, pleaded guilty to having wilfully neglected him “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health” between December 2011 and January 2012.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said it was clear the woman had not caused any of the injuries to her son.

It was also clear, he added, that she had taken steps to seek medication for him, but “failed to appreciate the degree to which he had been injured and the circumstances surrounding that”.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said while she had been “reckless”, he was “of the view she cared deeply for her son”.

However, Judge Miller added that the fact “he was suffering for up to a month is horrifying and shameful”.

The judge said that the consequences of her actions had “weighed heavily with her” and the delay in bringing the case to court had also had an “impact on her”, and that in all the circumstances probation would be the best in helping her.

Earlier, prosecuting counsel Kate McKay said the woman initally took her then 12-month-old son to the Ulster Hospital in January 2012.

Tests, including x-rays and a full skeletal survey, later showed that the infant not only had fractures in his right arm and wrist, but that he also had a further two groups of healing injuries, including fractures to his left arm.

Michael Tierney, for the defence, said in addition to there being no evidence to suggest the woman caused the injuries, “the evidence actually points the other way”.

The defence barrister said the young mother had sought pain-killing medication for her son, and even had him examined by an out-of-hours doctor who diagnosed an ear infection at a time when the youngster was already suffering from two fractures.

Mr Tierney said the woman had also returned her son to hospital after he was first examined when requested.