Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Cable thrashing mother sentenced

A mother who struck her 12-year-old daughter with a computer cable, a broom, a wooden spoon and her fists has been given a suspended jail sentence.

The 37-year-old asylum seeker was jailed for 12 months suspended for two years at Preston Crown Court after she pleaded guilty to child cruelty.

She was arrested at her home in east Lancashire in April after her daughter alerted police.

The judge said sentencing of such cases was difficult.

Alleged misdemeanours

He was told she had made significant progress since her arrest and was on medication for mental health problems.

Lisa Worsley, prosecuting, said the 12-year-old had told police she had been punished by her mother for allegedly stealing 20p from a neighbour's flat, hit with a wooden spoon and whipped with a computer cable over other alleged misdemeanours.

The schoolgirl added that she and two siblings had been left alone two months earlier for several days as their mother travelled to London in a bid to secure their stay in the UK.

The children were also placed in foster care after their mother was admitted to hospital after attempting to strangle herself, but were reunited with her when she was discharged, the court heard.

Cultural differences

Judith McCullough, defending, said the woman had come to the UK in 2005 to escape an abusive relationship with her ex-partner in order to protect her children.

The relationship between the mother and her eldest child deteriorated because of cultural differences between the pair.

The girl told police that her mother thought she could treat her like she had been as a child. Children of her age in her home country were expected "to do everything", she complained.

A letter said to be from the girl was presented to the judge in which she pleaded for him not to jail her mother.

Miss McCullough added: "The family is now living as a unit. That family unit is working well. If the defendant were to go to custody today all of that work would be undone."

Prolonged abuse

Judge Stuart Baker said the case was of a type which presented the "greatest of difficulties" when deciding upon the appropriate sentence.

"When an adult abuses a child and when that conduct is prolonged and persistent, and if the child suffers harm, the appropriate starting point will be a sentence of imprisonment," he said.

"The cruelty which you inflicted on your child was not confined to a single occasion or to a sudden outburst of temper borne out of frustration."

He ruled that imposing an immediate custodial sentence would only cause "further disruption" to her children and possibly add further emotional damage than they had already suffered.

The defendant was also given a two-year supervision order.

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