A Dublin woman who tried to abduct a child from a crèche was on a "deeply sad and traumatic search for her own daughter" at the time, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
Rebecca Cunningham from Rory O'Connor Park, Abbey Road, Dún Laoghaire was given a suspended sentence after the court heard she was suffering from a drug induced psychosis at the time.
The 34-year-old has schizophrenia and a history of substance abuse.
The court heard she went into the back garden of a childcare facility in south Dublin in September and tried to take a child. She told staff she was the child's mother and tried to lead her away but was intercepted by staff.
Staff at the facility said the woman resisted slightly but they were anxious to keep her calm while taking the child away from her. They made her a cup of tea while waiting for gardaí to arrive.
The woman was unable to tell staff her surname or where she lived and could only tell them the ages of two of her three children.
Prosecuting Counsel Seamus Clarke told the court the woman was described as being "calm but purposeful" as she tried to take a three-and-a-half year old child. She was quite confused but generally cooperative, he said.
The child she had tried to take was confused but not distressed, the court was told.
Lawyers for the defence said Ms Cunningham had reached her lowest ebb and was in a drug induced psychosis and this was a last ditch attempt to search for her own daughter.
Barrister Niall Nolan said she had been extremely unwell and "went on a freefall and dropped to her lowest point".
Her mental health incapacitated her and led to this "deeply sad and traumatic search for her daughter."
He said she had a history of substance abuse from the age of 17 and had been in a very damaging relationship.
Since her remand in custody she had made great progress and had been receiving psychiatric treatment and attending narcotics anonymous. She was given bail last week and had abided by its onerous conditions.
Judge Martin Nolan said on the day in question it appeared she was in a very distressed and confused situation and was probably taking drugs she should not have been taking.
"She seemed in her own mind to be looking for her child and found a child she thought was hers and tried to take her. The manager of the facility acted in a very responsible way and the situation was defused without great difficulty and only a slight struggle for the child, there was not hostility or major aggression."
The judge said it was obvious she had had her problems and while it was a function of the court to protect the public he did not regard her as a risk to the public.
He took into account her plea of guilty and previous good record and the fact that she was seeking expert help for her problems.
He imposed an 18-month suspended sentence on condition that she stay away from all crèches and schools including a number of named crèches in south Dublin and anywhere children congregate.
She must also be supervised by the probation service for 18 months.