Mum sentenced for child cruelty

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A Halifax mum who failed to protect her two young children from a violent boyfriend has been given a suspended prison sentence.

The 25-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, failed to get medical attention for the injured boy and girl and lived with them in squalid conditions at a house in Halifax.

The court heard horrifying details including that the children’s bedroom floors and sheets were found smeared with excrement and a doctor said marks found on the girl’s wrists suggested a “ligature” had been used.

Judge John Potter told the woman, who now lives in the Brighouse area, that she had selfishly put her own needs above those of the two toddlers.

“As a consequence of your behaviour in that period of time you caused harm to (them),” said the judge.

“It may well be that you did not physically strike them but your behaviour still caused them significant harm.”

Prosecutor Robin Mairs outlined shocking details of the case which dates back to early 2010.

On one occasion the young boy had suffered a badly split lip after falling accidentally, but despite being transferred to the Bradford Royal Infirmary for specialist treatment his mother refused to stay all night with him and took him away.

Mr Mairs said witnesses reported seeing the children with various injuries, but the mother claimed the youngsters had either fallen or injured themselves.

When the girl was seen with two black eyes and a clump of hair missing the defendant said she had done it by jumping from bed to bed and twisting her own hair.

Mr Mairs told Bradford Crown Court that the house, which had little food in it, had no fireguards or safety gates on the stairs and the floors throughout were filthy.

There were over-flowing bin bags in the kitchen and the children’s bedrooms floors and sheets were smeared with excrement.

Both children were examined doctors and found to have various injuries.

The court heard that the girl had marks under her chin and on her forearms and wrists suggesting a “ligature” had been used.

It was not until last month that the mother admitted five charges of child cruelty in relation to her neglect of the children.

Her then boyfriend was interviewed by police, but proceedings were not taken against him.

Barrister Amanda Johnson submitted that her client was a woman with long-standing and entrenched problems and was a vulnerable individual who needed help and assistance.

The court heard that both children were now thriving with foster parents and Miss Johnson said they appeared to have a settled and secure future away from her client.

Miss Johnson said the neglect covered a period of about six weeks and added: “The defendant bitterly regrets her role and her failure to both to look after properly and protect her children.

“She has learned a very difficult and bitter lesson and the most significant consequence for her of course is not being sent to prison, but the fact that her children have been removed and she will have no further contact with them.”

After reading detailed reports about the defendant Judge Potter decided that it was appropriate to suspend her 51-week prison sentence for two years.

Under the terms of the order the woman will be subject to a home night-time curfew for three months and she must comply with a high intensity activity programme as directed by the probation service.

The judge said the woman had subjected her very young children to living in dreadful conditions and significant violence by another person.

“The living conditions were squalid as can be seen in the photographic evidence present in this case,” said the judge.

The judge said he accepted that the woman’s then partner had caused the injuries, but he said she had been aware of the violence and had failed to prevent the children being hurt.

The judge said she had also failed to seek medical help for the youngsters and had prioritised her own selfish needs.

“It is pleasing to see that (the children) are doing exceptionally well where they are currently, safe from the harm that you caused them and safe from the violence that was meted out to them,” he added.