3rd Guarda child death sees 3rd mother arrested

Three children have died in separate painfully tragic incidents in Guarda in the last two weeks – two of them within little more than 24 hours of each other.

In each case, the children’s mothers were arrested.

The first tragedy, in Sortelhão two weeks ago, involved a mother with psychiatric problems who allegedly throttled her nine-year-old son “with her bare hands”.

The woman was being treated for a depression, and was allegedly not taking prescribed medication.

She is currently in the psychiatric wing of Guarda hospital, with reports saying “it is not known when she will be presented to a judge”.

Her child was buried in a deeply-emotional funeral.

Then last Friday came the terrible account of a 27-month-old toddler killed by a high-speed train in Sobral da Serra.

Little Rafael had been “playing” in the middle of the tracks.

His 23-year-old pregnant mother didn’t even start looking for him, say reports, until almost half an hour after his body was projected 60 metres down the line.

It took traumatised train staff 15 minutes to find the corpse, as locals talked of a “busy little boy” who was never properly supervised.

His mother was cited within hours for the crime of “exposition or abandonment”.

She later sought police protection, due to “threats” allegedly received from the family of the dead child’s absent father.

She is currently free, awaiting a court hearing.

A little more than 24 hours later, seven year old João Maria fell three storeys from the terrace of an apartment in the town of Guarda itself.

Say reports, the child was locked in the apartment when he fell.

Indeed, he lay in a pool of blood for over half an hour before a cleaner noticed what she thought was a shoe in the middle of the road.

When she realised the shoe was on the foot of a small body that had tumbled underneath a parked pick-up truck, she tried desperately to raise help.

Not one person answered the doorbells of the building from which João Maria had fallen, reports tabloid Correio da Manhã – outlining in subsequent reports how the child and his mother were “known to the authorities” but none had moved in in any effective way.

Allegations that João Maria suffered prolonged abuse are now being verified.

His mother and ‘sister-in-law’ who allegedly left him to go out to work have both been cited for the crime of “exposition or abandonment, aggravated by the death of the child” – and both have appeared before magistrates to be freed pending a court hearing.

But the bottom line is that authorities in Guarda, as well as three mothers and the communities they lived in, are all suddenly under the spotlight for extreme child neglect.

João Maria’s mother is reportedly an alcoholic who had simply “forgotten” that she was meant to have picked up her child that day.

As for the dead boy, he is believed to have been trying to get to a birthday party when he fell.

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