Mother left son, 2, at home for night in hotel

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A TWO-YEAR-OLD boy was forced to dial 999 to ask police to find his mother after she left him alone at home so that she could spend the night in a hotel with her boyfriend, a court heard yesterday.

The boy's emergency call brought police officers to his home in Devizes, Wiltshire, on 18 October last year. Officers found the home filled with a litany of potential hazards within reach of the child, including a burning candle dripping wax, an iron still switched on and an open bottle of paracetamol, Devizes magistrates were told.

Police also found an opened bottle of cough medicine in the kitchen and a child's stair gate open at the top of the stairs. "The telephone the child had used was pulled away from the wall at the socket," said Roger Jones, for the prosecution.

Police took the boy into care. His 23-year-old mother was found the following morning at a hotel in Devizes.

The woman admitted a charge of child cruelty yesterday. She was given a conditional discharge for 18 months after the bench learnt that she was suffering from depression after the death of her father.

The court ordered that the child not be identified.

Mr Jones said the mother had made no provision for caring for the child when she went to the hotel. When interviewed later by police, the mother "expressed disgust at herself for allowing this to happen".

Defence solicitor Jo Pridmore said that the incident was a climax to "a bad few years" for the mother.

"When she fell pregnant, her father felt she had brought shame on the family. When her father died from cancer she had not been able to make peace with him."

The mother had gone to the hotel to deliver a message. She met her boyfriend there and decided to stay for the evening, falling asleep in his room. She thought the boy would be safe because a neighbour would listen for him and had a key.

The mother is seeing a psychologist and a social worker. Her son is in the care of Wiltshire Social Services.

The mother told the media last night: "It is a miracle he managed to phone the police. There's no other word for it.

"I can only guess he managed it because from a young age I kept showing him the phone and getting him to press the `nine' button. I thought that as a single mother it might help one day, in case anything happens. I didn't think that he would take it in because he was so young."