Man jailed for allowing girl, 3, to smoke

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A man who allowed a three-year-old girl to smoke cigarettes was today jailed for 18 months.

Laughing and joking, Graeme Conroy, 31, handed the lit cigarette to the child and encouraged her to inhale it - with it all caught on camera.

The drug addict even got a 14-year-old girl to video the sickening act on a mobile phone as the three-year-old puffed away.

Conroy was caught when a neighbour of Conroy became aware of the video and alerted the police.

In the shocking film footage, Conroy can be heard guffawing with laughter and at one point someone is heard saying: "She'll smoke it all herself."

A reference is also made to cannabis - sparking fears the cigarette could have contained the drug.

However, tests carried out on the girl's hair proved by police proved negative, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

A 16-year-old witness to the incident described to police what Conroy did at the house in the Wardley area of Gateshead on February 24 this year.

"He said watch this. She (girl) like had a tab," the teenager told officers.

"We thought it was funny at first and he said 'video it'.

"She had finished it and put it out in the ashtray. The girl asked for another one and he said 'you've had enough' and she started crying so he gave her another one.

"She was inhaling and everything. It looked like she had smoked before. She was inhaling it and she knew what to do.

"Graeme didn't tell her what to do. She just knew what to do."

Prosecutor Tony Glover said: "The essence of the offence is that he encouraged this child to smoke.

"He admitted giving a child a cigarette. He said he knew it was wrong and knew he shouldn't have done it."

Mr Glover said the little girl had smoked two cigarettes before the teenage witness had arrived and was seen to have smoked another three.

Jane Foley, defending, said: "His behaviour was irresponsible and he clearly didn't give sufficient thought to what he was doing, believing it to be a bit of a joke.

"Clearly it's not funny. To anyone hearing the circumstances of the offence they would be appalled to hear that a three-year-old girl was permitted to smoke this cigarette.

"He has accepted his responsibility at the earliest opportunity."

Conroy, of Blyth Terrace, Ashington, Northumberland, admitted an offence of wilfully ill-treating, neglecting or exposing a child in a manner likely to cause suffering or injury to health.

Judge David Wood sentenced Conroy to 18 months imprisonment.

"You evidently thought it would be funny if she was allowed to smoke cigarettes and you could take a video of what was going on," he said.

"I expect you realise now this was not funny at all. This sort of conduct could be very damaging to a child's health and could have all sorts of effects upon her future health.

"You have completely disregarded her safety and endangered her."