Page last updated at 22:54 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

Drink binge mother left children

Rebecca Stevenson
Rebecca Stevenson admitted four counts of child cruelty

A mother who abandoned her four young children to go on a 24-hour drink and drug binge has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Rebecca Stevenson, 22, of Abraham Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, left her two boys and two girls, aged from three months to four years, in July.

She was jailed for 20 weeks, suspended for two years, after admitting child cruelty, Preston Crown Court heard.

Judge Norman Wright said it was "an appalling state of affairs".

It was with "merciful good luck" that none of the children was seriously injured through her "absolute dereliction" of duty, Preston Crown Court heard.

The consequences of children as young as these being left to fend for themselves are too dreadful to think about
Judge Norman Wright

Stevenson said she put her children to bed at 2130 BST and proceeded to drink a bottle of wine before indulging in cider and cocaine when friends called round.

Then in "a moment of madness" she told the court she left the children to their own devices as she went out to a house party.

She later carried on drinking throughout the day at pubs before returning home at 2230 BST the following day.

Steven Wild, prosecuting, said the children were discovered at 1000 BST that day when Stevenson's stepfather called at her home.

Baby 'hysterical'

The eldest daughter was leaning out of the lounge window, was rain-soaked and had been crying, he said.

Stevenson's one-year-old son was "hysterical" in his cot upstairs.

The youngster was soaked in urine as was the three-month-old boy who was also covered in sick in his cot.

The four-year-old girl had tried to feed the baby by using chairs to climb up to a kitchen cupboard and reach a tin of milk powder.

The children now live with their grandparents.

Judge Norman Wright told Stevenson: "We have all seen and been amused by Hollywood's Home Alone, of a much older child, but the consequences of children as young as these being left to fend for themselves are too dreadful to think about.

"They were left to fend for themselves because you had decided to go out for your own personal gratification, drinking and taking drugs."

'Mother's stress'

Richard Bennett, defending Stevenson, said she was a 22-year-old with four young children by three different fathers who had found her life "extremely difficult and distressful".

He said: "There can be no doubt that this young woman was under a great deal of stress.

"She was depressed because of the break-up of her long-term relationship with the father of the two boys."

The judge lifted reporting restrictions on naming the defendant in the interests of "open justice".

The judge also imposed an eight-week curfew on Stevenson, who admitted four counts of child cruelty.

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