North East Wales

Mother of wandering Flintshire street boy, 5, is warned

The mother of a five-year-old boy found wandering a Flintshire street at night has been given an eight week suspended prison sentence.

The youngster told police he was "looking for someone to play with" when found at 21:20 BST one night last May.

His mother, 35, was asleep at home in the Holywell area at the time after drinking heavily.

After admitting child neglect at Flintshire Magistrates Court, the woman was also given a supervision order.

At the hearing in Mold, district judge Andrew Shaw said he accepted that the woman was not aware that the child had left the house.

"You didn't know he was out because, to a large extent, you voluntarily got yourself so drunk that you didn't know where he was," the judge told her.

"You did not foresee that he might get out."

Judge Shaw said that the case did pass the custody threshold, but the sentence would be suspended for a year.

He told the mother that she seemed to struggle to understand that as a parent of children she "had to nurture them, support them, look after them and protect them".

He told her: "They are not independent beings. It was your sole responsibility, your moral responsibility and your legal responsibility.

"You failed with that responsibility on this occasion because you got yourself in such a state that the child was allowed to wander into the street at risk of whatever knows what. You might speculate as to what might have happened to him."

The court was told that police were alerted to the boy by a concerned member of the public.

The child was found standing between two parked cars without a jacket on. It was going dark and getting cold at the time.

'Clearly intoxicated'

He was asked who was looking after him, and he replied: "Nobody, my mum is asleep upstairs."

Officers went with him to his home address and found the house in darkness.

The boy let himself in and went upstairs to try and wake his mother, but he could not do so.

Prosecutor Matthew Ellis said police officers went upstairs, announced who they were, and found the boy's mother in a dishevelled state.

She was unsteady on her feet and slurring her words, clearly intoxicated and not in a fit state to look after a young child, he said.

In addition to the suspended prison sentence, the mother was made subject to a year long supervision order, and told to pay £85 costs.

Gwyn Jones, defending, said that his client accepted that drinking at home was not appropriate.

"She accepts that she has put her own interests ahead of that of the children, but that they must be her main priority now," he said.

The defendant was receiving help from the community alcohol services and a home detoxification programme was planned.

The court heard that social services had now taken an interest in relation to the children, who remained in her care. They would remain on the "at risk" register until all the local authority concerns had been addressed.

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