Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 17:11 UK

Killer mother more worried about dog

Sabrina Hirst
Hirst left the child unfed and in "filth and squalor"
As her daughter lay dying in a bedroom without food or water, Sabrina Hirst talked on the phone of her pet dog's feeding problems.

Police said this epitomised the behaviour of the callous mother, who allowed three-year-old Tiffany Wright to suffer in "abject squalor and degradation".

The 22-year-old was told she had "failed utterly" in her parental responsibilities to her daughter.

Her behaviour contributed to what the judge in the case said was probably the worst case of child manslaughter "there can be".

Tiffany died of malnutrition in an insect-infested room covered in dog faeces at the Scarborough Arms pub, in Upperthorpe, Sheffield.

I cannot describe the hate that I feel inside me, not just for these two people, but also for their close family
Martin Wright, father

Tiffany's mother was jailed for 12 years after admitting manslaughter.

Her stepfather Robert Hirst, 44, was jailed for five years for child cruelty.

The conditions in which Tiffany died in September last year were so horrific that Sheffield Recorder Judge Alan Goldsack QC said he was surprised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had not pressed ahead with a murder charge.

Tiffany's natural father Martin Wright said he could not describe the "hate he felt inside" towards the Hirsts for the way his daughter was neglected.

'Long course of neglect'

"Unlike some cases involving child cruelty, neither of you have learning or other difficulties which might at least in part explain the situation," the judge told the couple.

He said Tiffany's mother had nine good grade GCSEs and went on to study A levels.

"That you either did not know she was dead or, if you did, chose not to report her death until much later is the most potent evidence of the way you both failed utterly in your parental responsibilities to your daughter," the judge told the Hirsts.


As a father it's one of the most harrowing cases I've been involved with

Acting Det Ch Insp Dave Powell

"The evidence which has emerged is that Tiffany's death was the culmination of a long course of neglect by the pair of you."

The couple often left Tiffany unattended and locked in the living quarters.

Social services had warned Mrs Hirst to stop doing this but she had brushed their concerns aside, the court heard.

The judge said: "One almost unbelievable piece of evidence is that on what was probably Tiffany's last day alive you, Sabrina Hirst, were discussing on the phone concerns you had about one of your dogs' weight and feeding problems.

Robetr Hirst
Robert Hirst told his wife they would get "banged up"

"In my judgment all those factors make this about as bad a case of child manslaughter as there can be."

He told the court Mrs Hirst would have been jailed for at least 22 years if she had been convicted of murder after a trial.

Speaking after the case, Tiffany's natural father Martin Wright said he could not believe the Hirsts had let his daughter lie starving in filth as they were "gorging on food just a few feet away".

"I cannot describe the hate that I feel inside me, not just for these two people, but also for their close family who were supposed to have been there on a regular basis, who could not have failed to see the condition she was living in yet did nothing," he said.

"This tiny girl's life has been tragically taken away at such a young age when she should have been playing and having fun like any child that age."

Acting Det Ch Insp Dave Powell said: "As a father it's one of the most harrowing cases I've been involved with."

He said a full inquiry was under way into whether social services or any other organisation were at fault in the case.

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SEE ALSO
Mother jailed over child's death
27 Jun 08 |  South Yorkshire
Body of girl, three, found in pub
30 Sep 07 |  South Yorkshire

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