A HIGH court judge has suspended a six-month jail sentence she slapped on a mother for cruelty she inflicted on her two-year-old son 12 years ago.
Jillian Noel, of Pepper Village, Fyzabad, must do 80 hours' community service at the St Vincent De Paul Society, San Fernando, which houses the elderly.
If not, Justice Kathy Ann Waterman-Latchoo ordered in the San Fernando High Court on Thursday, she must serve the jail term.
On October 29, Noel pleaded guilty.
State attorney Katrisha Ambrose then recalled the physical abuse of the boy, now 13. He was not brought to the court hearing, in order to protect his identity. He no longer lives with his mother.
The boy was taken from Noel by PC Karl Taylor of the Community Policing Unit, Fyzabad Police Station.
Taylor took him to a doctor, who found scars on his body caused by cigarettes. Other injuries reflected fingernail scratches and a blunt object. Some scars were healing when the doctor examined him, but he also had fresh scars and injuries. The injuries were mostly on his mouth, chest, right leg and buttocks. His right arm had been fractured.
In sentencing Noel, Waterman-Latchoo said the charge did not specify that the mother inflicted the wounds, but that she did not do what was necessary to protect him while under her care.
Noel has other children, who lived with her at the time. Noting that the mother herself was in an abusive relationship, the judge found that in spite of her predicament, a child needs protection.
"The law has to look very seriously on the age of the child. This is a human being who was in need of protection. The court has to look at the child's age, his vulnerability and the severity of the injuries," Waterman-Latchoo said.
The maximum penalty for cruelty to a child is ten years' imprisonment, but in 2008, when Noel was charged, it was two years. The judge by law had to sentence in accordance with what obtained then.
Waterman-Latchoo said sending Noel to jail would not have been in the best interest of her other children who live with her.
Attorney Martin Joseph, who represented Noel, pleaded for a non-custodial sentence, saying the mother had no previous criminal record. She had pleaded guilty and was very remorseful, he added.
Water-man-Latchoo started with 12 months' imprisonment and took off six months for Noel's guilty plea. The remaining six months is suspended only on condition that she does the community service within a year.
A probation officer is to determine exactly what Noel will have to do at the home for elderly people.