Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

'Appalling' neglect woman jailed

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how neighbours would feed the children

A woman who subjected two children in Edinburgh to years of neglect has been jailed for 12 months for inflicting a lifetime of cruelty on them.

The brother and sister, who cannot be named, were subjected to "appalling" care, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard.

Neighbours would find them wandering the streets at night and feed them.

The woman had pleaded guilty previously to wilfully ill-treating, neglecting and abandoning the children, between 12 February 1998 and 15 August 2005.

When the boy was four, he needed to have eight of his 20 teeth removed because the woman had fed him "too many sweets."

She has gone from one abusive relationship to another and at times has not even been in a position to look after herself
Simon Collins

And one night he was found asleep on a grass verge, soaked in his own urine.

It also emerged they were sexually abused by an uncle, who has been convicted at the High Court.

Sheriff Isabella McColl criticised the "abandonment, neglect and harm" into which the children had been allowed to fall.

The brother and sister, now aged nine and 11 respectively, are living permanently with a foster family.

The 28-year-old's lawyer, Simon Collins, admitted that for the year she was addicted to heroin, she was often "not even in a position to look after herself".

He said: "But she does accept her responsibility and clearly was not coping with a difficult situation.

"She is responsible for the neglect, but in very mitigating circumstances."

The defence agent said the woman had gone from one abusive relationship to another.

Sexual abuse

But fiscal depute Melanie Ward, prosecuting, pointed out that the woman did not ever notice the signs that the children had been abused.

She said: "Her skills were so appalling that she didn't notice."

"She never inquired as to who was committing the sexual abuse."

Mr Collins agreed, adding: "The signs were there but they were not interpreted.

"She didn't know what was going on."

Sheriff McColl told her: "The degree of neglect and harm which the children suffered led me to consider a custodial sentence as the appropriate disposal.

"I have taken into account the fact that you have never served a prison sentence before.

"But I consider it is the appropriate disposal due to the extreme level of neglect, abandonment and harm suffered by the children."

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