Harpenden mother found guilty of neglecting toddler

A mother whose toddler was found wandering the street in the early hours of the morning by a postman has admitted child neglect.

The 39-year-old woman got drunk and fell asleep after putting her 18-month-old daughter to bed.

On Friday, July 22, St Albans Crown Court heard that while the woman was sleeping, her little girl got out of bed and used a toy box to climb out of a window, before falling from the sloping roof and cutting her face.

In below-zero temperatures on March 18 this year, the little girl roamed around outside and wasn’t seen until a passing postman spotted her on his way to work at 3.50am.

He managed to take her to the sorting office and the police and an ambulance were alerted. Once the police traced the mother at her flat, they initially struggled to wake her. When she did eventually open the door and was told what had happened, she reportedly called the child a “little bugger” and said she would kill her.

Afterwards the mother told police that she had downed three to four double measures of Bacardi and coke when she sat down at around 10.30pm that night, falling asleep around midnight.

Philip Sutton, defending, told the court that the mother was not an alcoholic but did drink heavily from “time to time”. He said she was in need of help more than punishment.

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He added: “This was a piece of neglect which fortunately did not result in far more serious consequences, either because of the fall or because she wandered out into the street.”

The little girl suffered facial injuries, cuts and bruises in the fall and was taken to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital at the time. A pool of blood was found at the point where she had toppled from the roof onto the ground.

Deputy Circuit Judge Ronald Moss was told how the window the girl had climbed through had a faulty lock and was insecure.

He said that he thought the incident had occurred because the mother was “careless rather than because she was evil.”

When passing sentence, Judge Moss acknowledged the mother’s unhappy background. He said: “There but for the grace of God your daughter might have been really seriously injured or even worse. If she had fallen on her head it could have been appalling.”

He said he wasn’t sure why she had said what she had said to the police when they called at her flat and added: “I can’t believe you meant it in earnest.”

He sentenced her to a 12 month community order and she will be subject to a three month curfew when she must remain at home between 7pm and 7am. She will be electronically tagged for the duration of the curfew.

The child is now staying with her grandmother in a flat nearby in an arrangement approved by social services. The mother has daily access and eventually hopes to have her daughter back with her.