THE sentencing of a mother who smothered her only child with a pillow has been adjourned until July 7 during which time a case conference is to take place in relation to the woman’s ongoing psychiatric care.
Presiding judge at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Barry White, adjourned the case saying it would be “highly inappropriate” for Ms Ward to be released into society without the proper services and support structures being put in place.
Last month, Diane Ward, 44, of Harrison Place, Charleville, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her son Anthony at their home on September 3, 2012.
Giving evidence in courtroom 6 at the Criminal Courts of Justice this Monday morning, Detective Sergeant Michael Corbett of Mallow garda station said that gardai attended the Charleville home of Diane ward at 9.35 am on September 3, 2012 after a phone call was received at the station.
The court heard that on arrival at the bungalow, gardai discovered Diane Ward sitting in the back bedroom of the home with her son Anthony on her left hand side on the bed.
Det Sgt Corbett said that the child had no pulse and the emergency services were called.
“She told Detective Liam Ruttle that she had killed Anthony by smothering him,” said Det Sgt Corbett who added that a pillow was used to smother the child.
The court was told that Anthony normally slept with his mother in the bed – “it was a habit he had gotten into” – and during the night in question, Diane Ward got up between 3am and 3.30am.
She had several boxes of Paracetamol in one envelope “and took the Paracetamol” before returning to the bedroom to smother the child.
There was a handwritten note on the envelope containing the Paracetamol, asking to “bury us together”.
The court heard that Ms Ward felt strongly that if she took her own life, there would be nobody to look after Anthony.
Ms Ward who was present in court wearing a black blazer and white top, sat on her own in the dock and listened intently to the evidence as it was given.
She was greeted by individuals at the lunchtime break. Ms Ward is currently receiving treatment in the Central Mental Hospital.
The court heard she had been battling depression since 1992 and in 2010 she had attempted to take her own life. She had been prescribed anti-depressants.
Her son Anthony had been diagnosed with ADHD in 2011 and had been prescribed Ritalin which had caused a rift between Diane and her family. Her family felt that the treatment didn’t agree with the child while Ms Ward felt she was “doing the right thing by continuing with the medication”.
The court heard that Ms Ward had no previous convictions.
The boy’s father, Mark Ryan, who had been in a relationship with Ms Ward for 10 years, was among those present in court today.
A statement read on behalf of Mr Ryan by Det Sgt Corbett said: “Myself and Diane had been friends for 10 years. She is a good person who made a mistake. I wish her well.”
Giving evidence, Dr Helen O’Neill, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital said that Ms Ward “had a “genuine intention” of taking her own life the night she killed her son.
She said that Anthony was “the centre of his mother’s world” and it would take “considerable time” to come to terms with his death.
Dr O’Neill said the grieving reaction “is so so complicated it is going to take some time to come to terms with”.
The court heard that Ms Ward has never visited her only child’s grave.
Ms Ward’s current mental was described in court as “stable” and has been for the past 12 months.
The court heard that Ms Ward has “quite a fractious” relationship with her own mother and hasn’t responded in any way to her mother who has sent her items.
Justice Barry White described the case as “extremely difficult” before adjourning sentencing until July 7.