A mother pleaded guilty to nine years of neglect of her seven children has walked free from court.

The 38-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed down a four-year jail term with seven years suspended at Ennis Circuit court in Co. Clare on Monday, according to the Irish Examiner.

The woman pleaded guilty to the neglect and ill treatment of five girls and two boys over a nine year period from March 2001 to July 2010.

Read More: Court hears how ‘vermin’ mother left 10-year-old in charge of six siblings

Judge Carroll Moran said the woman had committed the “unnatural crime” of child neglect and “deprived her children of a childhood, which will have long-lasting consequences.”

During a witness impact statement, the accused eldest child, now 17, described her mother as “vermin” and that she was “cruel and evil”.

The court heard how the eldest daughter was left to care for her newborn premature sister when she was ten years old. The children are now aged between 4 and 17.

Judge Moran said that when the four youngest were placed in foster care, “their foster mother said that the four were very frightened, dirty, malnourished children. They did not know how to eat at the table, didn’t know how to use cutlery, and were not toilet-trained.”

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The court heard how the woman left her children alone while she spent days in the pub with the father or six of the seven children, whom she has since separated.

“As a result of this drinking, there was insufficient food in the house and sometimes no food at all. The children were left for long periods, alone and without food,” he said.

Judge Moran said that when the eldest girl took money from her mother's jeans,” her mother hit her with a shoe, a sweeping brush and a poker all over the head. Although she suffered multiple bruising, the child was too afraid to go to the doctor".

Judge Moran said the woman had no previous convictions. She suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her own alcoholic parents.  She is now in a new relationship and had another baby in September 2011.

Imposing the sentence, Judge Moran said he opted not to jail the woman “Because of her attempts to address her alcohol problem and inadequacies as a parent, and her plea of guilty... it would not be right to impose an immediate custodial sentence.”

The woman’s former partner has pleaded guilty to the neglect of the seven children and is to be sentenced at a later date.

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