Mother jailed for daughter's neglect death

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The Independent Online

A mother who left her three-year-old daughter to die from malnutrition in her bedroom and did not find her body until two days after her death was jailed for 12 years today.

Tiffany Wright died in "squalor, filth and degradation" when she was "entirely neglected" by her parents at the pub they ran in Sheffield last year.

Today at Sheffield Crown Court, Sabrina Hirst, 22, was jailed for 12 years after previously admitting manslaughter.

Her husband, Robert Hirst, 44, was jailed for five years after admitting child cruelty.

The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Alan Goldsack QC, described the case as "about as bad a case of child manslaughter as there can be".

The judge heard the circumstances of Tiffany's death were "truly appalling".

He was told how the little girl's body was found decomposing by police in a beetle-infested room at the Scarbrough Arms, in Upperthorpe, Sheffield in September last year.

A pathologist said she had been dead for between two and three days and tests showed she had not eaten or drunk anything for at least 20 hours, probably more.

The court heard Tiffany died from bronchial pneumonia which was a direct result of malnutrition.

Opening the case, Jeremy Richardson QC told the judge Tiffany died because she "simply had not been fed or given fluids".

CCTV film found in the pub showed Sabrina Hirst carrying on working in the bar in the days before her daughter's death. At one point she is heard talking on the phone showing concern about whether her dogs had been fed.

Even Sabrina Hirst's own barrister admitted his client's version of events was that she last checked on her poorly daughter at 7am on the Friday before she found her body in the early hours of Sunday, September 30.

An analysis of her bones showed she had been subjected to intermittent malnutrition for a prolonged period of time.

Mr Richardson explained how the family lived above the pub where Tiffany was brought up in "circumstances of abject squalor and degradation".

He said the couple would regularly go out leaving the little girl with no supervision in a flat which was covered in dog faeces and had bare electrical cables exposed from wall sockets.

He said the couple "entirely neglected" their daughter.

She was often "never fed properly, if at all" and lived in "squalor, filth and degradation".

The prosecutor added that the squalor "almost defies description for any human being to live in".

Mr Richardson said Tiffany had not been seen for about a week by anyone other than her mother.

He said: "In the last week of her life she was never nourished or cared for at all."

The court heard Robert Hirst, who became involved with his wife in 2004 and married her in 2006, initially wanted to formally adopt Tiffany but later seemed to become more detached from her.

One witness said she saw him shout at the three-year-old: "You little bitch. Eat your f****** food."

He told police he was working as a delivery driver's mate in the week before Tiffany died and did not see her.

The court heard how the pub's CCTV caught him talking to his sobbing wife after they had found Tiffany in her room and before the police arrived.

He was heard to say: "We've f***** it all up" and "We're going to get banged up for this."

The court heard how Tiffany was about one and half stone (9kg) at the time of her death and was 3ft 4ins tall.

She had put on less than a kilo in weight in the last two years of her life.

The couple had also admitted child cruelty in relation to a one-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons.