Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Jail for home alone death mother

Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown left her daughter alone for up to three hours

A mother whose 22-month-old daughter died in a house fire after being left alone has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Michelle Brown, 37, of Oxford Street, Hillfields, Coventry, was convicted of causing or allowing the girl's death and perverting the course of justice.

Jodie Ann Brown died of smoke inhalation after an electrical fire broke out at her home on 15 July.

Her mother was known to social services, Coventry Crown Court heard.

She was sentenced to six years in prison for causing or allowing her daughter's death and 18 months for perverting the course of justice. The sentences are to run consecutively.

'Small mercy'

Judge Peter Ross told Brown she had deliberately put Jodie Ann in the rear upstairs bedroom "where she could not wander or attract attention".

The house where Jodie Ann Brown died
Jodie Ann Brown was left alone by her mother in their home

He said: "The heavy fire door was closed so that any crying, screaming, or moving about would not be spotted by any passers by."

He added that "the only mercy" was that Jodie would have gone quietly in her sleep.

He said it was "very far from the first time" Brown had left any of her children alone.

Coventry City Council said the case had deeply affected Brown's other children.

It said it was waiting for the results of a serious case review later this month.

Trapped upstairs

The court heard how Brown had been attending a county court hearing when the fire broke out.

It was a family hearing concerning one of her other children.

Brown has three children living in England and two more in her native Jamaica.

The trial was told Jodie Ann was left trapped in an upstairs bedroom for up to three hours.

The two-week trial heard how Jodie Ann was in the unventilated room when a "slow, smouldering fire" broke out.

When Brown arrived home she was filmed by CCTV cameras carrying her daughter in her arms.

She eventually phoned an ambulance from a nearby hairdresser's, but her daughter was declared dead later.

In the moments after the fire, Brown made several calls on her mobile phone asking friends to lie for her and claim they had been looking after Jodie Ann in her absence.

She remained deep in conversation on her phone even as she travelled in the ambulance with her daughter, paramedics told the court.

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