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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Mother accused over mauled baby
The baby was found crying with the ferret near the cot
A teenage mother has been accused of neglect after she failed to prevent a pet ferret mauling her baby, a court has heard.

The boy, who cannot be identified, has been scarred for life after suffering multiple puncture wounds to his face, hands and arms.

His 19-year-old mother denies cruelty to a person under 16, namely the wilful neglect of her son on 10 January this year.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how paramedics called to a flat in Herne Bay, Kent, found the distressed mother cradling a bitten and scratched baby.

'Prolonged attack'

The nine-month-old boy was taken to hospital, where the injuries were felt to be the result of a "significant and prolonged attack", Michael O'Sullivan, prosecuting, told the court.

Mr O'Sullivan said the mother had told police the baby was whimpering when she put him to bed at 2315 GMT on 10 January.

She pulled the bedroom door tightly shut so the ferret could not get in, although it did not lock.

Mr O'Sullivan said the mother said she thought the baby was "attention crying" just before a pizza was delivered at 2330 GMT.

Bitten other people

She said the television and music were on and it was some time before she noticed the intensity of the baby's crying had changed.

She found her son on his hands and knees crying with the ferret near the cot.

The animal had bitten other people in the four or five months she had had it but not the baby, the court heard.

Mr O'Sullivan said she told police she loved her son and had made a mistake by not putting the ferret away.

He told the jury: "This was a prolonged attack. The Crown say this was a case where she could not have failed to hear the cries."

The trial continues.

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