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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 14:40 GMT
'Home alone' mother is sentenced
Welshpool court
Magistrates said the negligence passed the custody threshold
A mother who left her 14-year-old daughter home alone for six weeks has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Magistrates in Welshpool, Powys were told the woman went abroad to see her boyfriend last year leaving the girl with 100 and a fridge full of food.

She denied neglect and abandonment, saying she arranged for her neighbour and ex-husband to look after the girl.

A 13-week jail term was suspended for 18 months. She was also told to carry out 130 hours unpaid work.

The woman was convicted after a two-day trial in February at which she was a described as doing a "Shirley Valentine" and disappearing "without a care for the child and without making adequate arrangements for her to be looked after".

She also acknowledged that she knew her daughter had formed an under-age sexual relationship with a boy and had allowed it to continue.

We found that she had been neglected in that she had entered into a sexual relationship condoned by the mother
Chairman of the magistrates, Michael Davies

Magistrates were told the defendant, who cannot be named, had stocked the fridge and freezer at the family home with pizza, oven chips and microwave meals before going abroad between April and June 2007.

Of the 100 she gave to her daughter, 60 was spent almost immediately on school dinners for the period she was away.

The girl spent most of the remaining 40 on clothes and CDs, the court heard.

The trial was told social services had found out about the girl's situation after two days and had arranged for her father, the woman's ex-husband, to look after her for the remainder of her mother's holiday.

The girl's father was said to have been unaware his daughter had been left home alone. He now has custody of his daughter, now 16, who lives with him permanently.

Financial circumstances

The woman failed to return when she learned her daughter was being looked after by her father. She was interviewed by police three days after returning to the UK.

In court she claimed her trip abroad had been to arrange a visa so her boyfriend could live and work in the UK, improving her family's financial circumstances.

In addition to the suspended jail term and unpaid work, the woman was fined 450 costs.

Chairman of the magistrates, Michael Davies, said her negligence had "passed the threshold for custody".

"We found that she had been neglected in that she had entered into a sexual relationship condoned by the mother," he said.

"Although more serious harm did not befall her this was more due to chance and the vigilance of the social services."

The defendant's solicitor had pleaded with bench to rule out a custodial sentence in order to avoid giving her daughter, who had testified against her, a guilt complex.


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