Father who abandoned toddler at side of road is jailed for three years

Father Who Abandoned Toddler At Side Of Road Is Jailed For Three Years
The child was found crying, cold and in a terrified state by two passers-by at 5am, Letterkenny District Court was told
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Stephen Maguire

A young father who abandoned his baby daughter at the side of a busy road to get revenge after the child's mother went on a night out has been jailed for three years.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, then took pictures of the two-year-old child before sending them to her mother and driving off.


The child was found crying, cold and in a terrified state by two passers-by at 5am.

Judge John Aylmer placed the incident at the higher end of the scale for such offences saying the child had been "exposed to significant risk of death or injury."

He added that the child had been exposed to all kinds of danger by the man in a "fairly premeditated fashion."

The accused, who is in his 20s, appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal where he pleaded guilty to a charge of child cruelty.


Details of the terrifying incident were outlined in court by Garda Sergeant Frank McDaid of Letterkenny Garda Station.

Child crying

He told how two men returning from a night out in Letterkenny in August 2020 had initially thought they had heard a child crying.

To their terror they found a young child in socks with no shoes holding a baby's bottle with milk at the entrance to a construction site.

They immediately began banging on the doors of local houses thinking the child had accidentally walked out of one of the houses.


However, none of those who answered recognised the little girl and gardaí were contacted.

The child was quickly put into a patrol car and wrapped up as she was feeling cold.

A woman later telephoned the garda station explaining that the lost child was her daughter and that she had been in the care of her father earlier the night.

The court heard how the man had become jealous that his ex-partner had been out socialising and had telephoned the woman on at least 30 occasions during which he threatened to abandon the child.


At 4.30am the man threatened his ex-partner that he would leave the child if she did not tell him where she was.

The man eventually followed through on his threat but not before he took a picture of the child alone by the side of the road and sending it to her mother and her sister before driving off.

CCTV footage

A full investigation was launched during which CCTV showing the man driving off leaving the toddler alone was recovered.

The accused was arrested by gardaí and when confronted he told them "Aye, I was expecting this silly thing."


He was interviewed on four occasions during which he admitted getting the child out of her bed and leaving her in Letterkenny saying his temper go the better of him.

He also admitted that "anything could have happened to the child" but said he had been on medication for depression which he had stopped taking.

A victim impact statement on behalf of the child's mother said the child still struggles to be around other people and will only stay with her and her parents.

The young woman said her daughter or herself had never been through anything so traumatic but added that they are getting through it.

The court was also told that the young man has not seen his daughter since the incident.

Barrister for the accused, Fiona Crawford, said her client was rightfully ashamed of what he had done and was very remorseful.

Ms Crawford said her client admitted that he had used the child as a pawn in a jealous relationship and there was no excuse for it.

He added that he really appreciated what the passing men had done in finding his daughter admitting that they had "saved her life."

Ms Crawford added: "He had lost the head and temper got at him. He was taking matters out on his child. She would have been scared and confused.

"There is no excuse, and he is so disappointed, disgusted and ashamed of himself."


Passing sentence Judge Aylmer said that before mitigation, he placed the incident at the higher end of the scale and one which merited a sentence of five years.

He said the fact the child was only left alone for two minutes was only "fortuitous" as the child had been found by two men returning from a party.

"This involved a huge breach of trust on his behalf in that he had the care and the custody of the child," said the judge.

However, because the accused had entered an early plea and his overall cooperation he was reducing the sentence to one of four years imprisonment.

The man also had no previous convictions for similar offences and only had one previous conviction for a simple drugs possession offence.

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The accused was also being treated for depression at the time but was not taking his medication and that he acted out of bad temper for "purely selfish reasons."

In all those circumstances including the needs identified by the probation services, Judge Aylmer said he was suspending the last 12 months of the four-year sentence.

He directed that the man abstain from alcohol and unprescribed drugs and remain under the service of the Probation Service for 12 months after his release.

Judge Aylmer also ordered the accused to identify the names of any partners or their children with whom he forms a relationship within the 12 months of being released.

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