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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 14:54 GMT
Woman jailed for leaving children
A woman has been jailed for six months after leaving her two young children at home alone while she went on holiday to Spain with her boyfriend.

The 34-year-old, from Birmingham, admitted abandoning the children, who were then aged 12 and six, for several days in November at an earlier hearing.

She also pleaded guilty to leaving them at night while she worked as a barmaid.

Judge Alan Taylor at Birmingham Crown Court said he had to prevent other mothers behaving in the same way.

Spanish villa

The woman, who sat sobbing in the dock and clutching a teddy bear throughout the hearing, left for Spain on Tuesday, November 16 and intended to return on the following Saturday.

The children were left with notes about the daily routine, including how to boil water for spaghetti bolognaise and who to call in an emergency.

In interviews with police, the eldest child said she was "scared" at night, while the youngest said he thought his mother was "stupid" for leaving.

He mistakenly thought she had gone to watch the England football team play against Spain in Madrid but, in fact, she was staying at a villa belonging to her boyfriend's parents, the court heard.

The shame...will, no doubt, follow her to her dying day
Alan Parker, defending

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came back early to England after police were contacted anonymously about the children's situation and admitted leaving them, following her arrest.

She claimed to have thought it was acceptable to leave them because her daughter was mature.

The woman also admitted leaving the children for long periods at night while she went out to work as a barmaid at a private members' club from April last year.

Alan Parker, defending, urged the judge not to jail his client because of the punishment she had already suffered.

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