Published Thursday, 31 July 2014
She received a six-month sentence, suspended for three years. (© UTV)
Belfast Magistrates Court on Thursday heard that when the three children were taken from their home in the city by social workers, the eldest told them she had "been brave" in helping to look after her younger siblings after they were left alone by their mother. All three are now in foster care.
The woman, who cannot be named to protect the children's identities, admitted six charges of child cruelty on the basis of neglect and abandonment over a period from 1 April to 22 June 2013.
She was handed a six-month prison sentence, which was suspended for three years.
A representative from the PPS told the court that on 22 June last year, social workers visited a property in Belfast where they discovered three children home alone.
They were subsequently removed from the house under the Children's Order 1995.
They were medically examined by a forensic medical officer, and during interviews the eldest child said they had been left alone overnight by their mother, who returned the next morning.
When she arrested, the 25-year old admitted leaving her children.
Branding the case against his client as "very sad", defence solicitor Ben Thompson pointed out there were no allegations of physical abuse, adding the children at the time appeared to be in good health.
He also told District Judge George Connor that the children, who are now in care, have "responded very positively" to the change in their living arrangements, adding their mother "recognises they deserve better care than the care she is able to provide for them."
Regarding his client, Mr Thompson said: "She was very severely damaged emotionally by a harrowing childhood, and as a consequence of that, she is emotionally detached from her children."
Passing sentence, District Judge George Connor said the charges before the court were "very serious matters." When she was handed a suspended sentence, the woman wept.
© UTV News