A mother, who was spotted by members of the public repeatedly hitting and pulling the hair of her young daughter, forcing her to flee to a nearby car for help, has avoided jail for the alcohol-fuelled attack on the child.
The assault, which happened in view of others in St. Helier one evening last month, led to two ‘999’ calls from alarmed members of the public.
The woman – who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child – appeared in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday where she was handed a nine-month probation order for breaking the Children’s Law.
According to Legal Adviser Susie Sharpe, witnesses said they saw the defendant “strike the girl to the top half of her body”, with one saying they saw the mother “take hold of the child and grab her by the hair and sleeve and pull it back a couple of feet”.
The mother was also seen hitting her crying child “three times to the head whilst asking her to ‘shut up’."
“There was also an allegation that the child had been struck across the face,” Ms Sharpe added.
When Police arrived, they noticed that the child had “reddening to both cheeks”.
However, the child was not said to have sustained any lasting injuries from the assaults later described as “drink-related."
Advocate Alana Binnie, representing the mother, told the Magistrate’s Court that the case resulting from the assault had been the “worst time of her life."
As a result, she said that the mother was now “fully committed” to improving matters for both herself and her daughter.
Advocate Binnie told Court that the mother was “aware of the seriousness” of her offending, and was “completely remorseful and regretful."
She had also cooperated with Police and entered a guilty plea at the earliest possible opportunity.
Emphasising that the mother had found the legal process “extremely stressful”, Advocate Binnie argued that a non-custodial sentence would be most appropriate for her.
Due to “her level of severe anxiety”, she added that community service could also be “particularly onerous for her”.
Advocate Binnie further explained that the woman was now engaging with Silkworth – a charity dedicated to drug and alcohol rehabilitation – and an employment adviser.
Relief Magistrate David Le Cornu addressed the mother directly as he sentenced her to nine months’ probation.
Referring to the findings of a Social Enquiry Report prepared about her in advance of the hearing, he said: “…When you’re not drinking, you’re a good mother, and it’s the drinking that’s the problem.”
The Relief Magistrate subsequently handed down his sentence, warning her: “If you fall off the wagon, there will be serious consequences.”
He then added: “Should you breach your probation, you will be brought back to court and the court may feel a different way. Do you understand?”
The mother nodded before being dismissed from the stand.
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