Toddler was near death as mum was out taking drugs, Leicester court told
A toddler left alone by his mother while she went out drinking and taking drugs with friends was found hours from death by electricity company workers chasing up unpaid bills.
The two-year-old boy had been left, ill, shivering, starving and wearing a soiled nappy for 21 hours in a freezing bedroom.
Yesterday, his 24-year-old mother was jailed for 16 months at Leicester Crown Court after admitting two counts of child cruelty and wilful abandonment and neglect.
The hearing was told the woman, whose name the Mercury cannot reveal because of a court ruling protecting the identity of her son, had abandoned him on "five or six occasions" at her home in Leicester's West End between June last year and February.
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On one occasion, in November, the child was left alone for 48 hours while his mother stayed with her then partner.
James Thomas, prosecuting, said matters came to the attention of the authorities as a result of a visit to the address by employees of power company E-on on February 16.
"They had a warrant and entered the premises," he said.
"They discovered the boy at home, alone. He was in a very poor condition.
"He was in a soiled nappy. He had injuries to his body as a result of neglect and he was in a dangerous condition.
"The room he was in was described as freezing cold."
Mr Thomas said the E-on staff called paramedics and the police.
"When witnesses and the police woke him, he immediately held his arms in the air and said, 'Up, up'," said Mr Thomas.
A police officer then picked up the boy and fed him some biscuits – the only food in the house – before he was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Mr Thomas said the child was hypothermic and had critically low blood sugar, which was evidence of a period of starvation.
The boy also had a serious skin infection and scabies rash across his body.
Mr Thomas said: "Untreated, this would have lead to seizures, coma and death in the next few hours, had he not been found.
"He was observed to be extremely friendly and willing to be cuddled by anyone.
"The hospital consultants said this was a sign of emotional neglect."
Mr Thomas said that during police interviews, the woman admitted abandoning her son on five or six occasions over the previous six months "by going out socialising with friends and consuming large amounts of alcohol and drugs".
Recorder Frances Oldham told the woman: "You put your own needs first, selfishly, before those of your son. He was completely dependant on you and you failed him."
The Mercury asked Mrs Oldham to alter the reporting restrictions so the defendant could be named publicly.
However, she declined on the grounds that other court proceedings involving the boy, who is now in care, were in process.
Steven Newcombe, defending the woman, said: "Her attitude appears to be one of genuine remorse.
"She feels she deserves to go to prison for mistreating and neglecting her son and would like him to know, when he is older, that justice has been done on his behalf.
"It is likely, if she were alcohol and drug-free, that she would perform at a higher level.
"There was also a desperation for friendship and intimacy. She formed a whole series of relationships. She veered from one person to another, leaving her son unattended."