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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Woman jailed for giving son drugs
Emma Kelly
Emma Kelly was a promising jockey until her descent into drug abuse
A drug addict mother has been jailed for nine years for supplying heroin and crack cocaine to her son from the age of nine.

Emma Kelly, 31, formerly of Eastbourne, in East Sussex, admitted the offences, which could have killed the child, at a hearing at Hove Crown Court last month.

Kelly admitted supplying the drugs between August 2002 and May 2005.

She also admitted two counts of cruelty to a child between August 2003 and January 2005.

Judge Anthony Niblett told her she had betrayed her son.

You offered no explanation or excuse for it, and there can be none
Judge Anthony Niblett

He said: "On 5 May 2005 you went to his school and you supplied him there with a wrap of heroin. This was, in my assessment, an act of pure wickedness.

"You offered no explanation or excuse for it, and there can be none."

Kelly was sentenced to nine years in total for supplying her son with class A drugs, including five years to be served concurrently for child cruelty.

This includes two six-year sentences to be served concurrently for supplying him with heroin and crack cocaine, and a consecutive sentence of three years for giving him heroin when he was in foster care.

Police video image of Emma Kelly's home
Emma Kelly was addicted to class A substances

The court was told Kelly had plied her son with opiates from the age of nine, until he was 11.

She had driven him around as she toured Sussex and London in search of drugs.

Ibitayo Adebayo, prosecuting, said Kelly and her son were arrested in January 2005 on suspicion of shoplifting and taken to Eastbourne police station.

The police contacted a drug referral worker who saw the boy, and noted that the pupils of his eyes were very large, suggesting he was going through a withdrawal from drugs.

Judge Niblett said the boy was able to tell police that he rarely went to school.

He did have a bond with his mum, but that was borne out of his addiction
Det Sgt Wendy Fuller

The boy spent a week in hospital withdrawing from his opiate addiction.

Outside the court, Det Sgt Wendy Fuller of Sussex Police described how the boy was "rocking in his hospital bed, very agitated, crying for his mum" when he was experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

"He did have a bond with his mum, but that was borne out of his addiction," she said.

The boy, now aged 12, is in foster care and is said to be thriving and back at school.

Rebecca Upton, defending, said Kelly's descent into drug abuse was triggered by the death of her partner in 1996.

'Truly disgusted'

Before then she had a promising career as a jockey and also worked regularly before developing a dependence on drugs.

Ms Upton said Kelly felt "truly disgusted" at her actions and expressed her "utmost and sincerest remorse".

The role of East Sussex Social Services was questioned by Judge Niblett, who said that if it had not been for the arrest, social services might not have intervened.

This was despite a social services case conference about the boy being held in 2004, he said.

The social worker connected to the case was changed "and the situation was allowed to continue".

He said that a social services representative had not attended the court to answer concerns, but added he was pleased that he would receive a report within 14 days.

After the case Sussex Police Child Protection Team (CPT) at Eastbourne said the boy could have died every time he was supplied with the drugs.

'Lessons learnt'

In a statement, Matt Dunkley, director of children's services for East Sussex County Council, said: "Our service has the highest possible rating for child protection and naturally our primary concern is for the safety and welfare of the child.

"The child concerned is still in our care and we are delighted that he is thriving and doing well."

The statement added that all major decisions to protect the child prior to him being taken into care were taken jointly with all the agencies involved, including the police.

"Together with partners in other agencies, we will learn from any of the lessons that arise from this case."

Woman supplied child with drugs
19 Jul 06 |  Southern Counties
Woman admits cruelty to a child
26 May 06 |  Southern Counties

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