A Co Roscommon mother-of-six has been to sentenced seven years in prison after pleading guilty to incest, sexual assault and neglect of her children.
Judge Miriam Reynolds, who also placed the accused on the Sex Offenders' Register, said it was the first known case of a woman having been convicted of incest. She said that in imposing sentence she was bound by legislation that was 101 years old, the Punishment of Incest Act 1908.
Under the Act, a man coming before the court on this charge would face life in prison but the maximum sentence for a woman was seven years, the judge said.
She said she believed that women should be treated equally before the law.
The court heard harrowing evidence of how the woman had forced one son to have sex with her when he was just 13 years old and she was 36.
The judge also heard that the children who were shunned at school because they smelled and were covered with lice and fleas, were forced to live in squalor, in a freezing, filthy home, over- run with mice and rats, where there was often no food, no heat and where rubbish was dumped in every room.
The accused was sentenced to six years in prison on each of the two incest charges. Two sentences of seven years were imposed on the charges of sexual assault on her son - which carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Des Dockerey BL, counsel for the State, pointed out that three of the offences of willful neglect and ill-treatment of her children were committed before the Children's Act 2001 came into force and therefore the maximum sentence was two years.
Three further counts of neglect were dated from 2002 to 2004 and carried a maximum penalty of seven years.
Judge Reynolds imposed sentences of 18 months each for the three earlier charges and of six years each for the three later neglect charges. All sentences are to run concurrently from today.
Despite old legislation the judge had a simple way on keeping that criminal in jail, order her to serve her sentences consecutively. She is a rapist and should be keep behind bars for life. That she is only serving seven years is an insult to her victims and a travesty of justice.