Mother to appeal over prison term: Charity attacks sentence on woman who left two-year-old at home during the day

THE MOTHER jailed for six months for leaving her two-year-old daughter alone at home while she went out to work is to appeal against the sentence.

Her legal moves came amid growing controversy over the sentence imposed by Judge Michael Harrison at Warwick Crown Court on Monday.

The Daycare Trust, a leading child care charity, yesterday criticised the judge and said the child, now living with her grandmother, would suffer from being parted from her mother.

But Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, said: 'The courts were right to deal firmly with the mother . . . there can be no possible justification for such an act.'

Helen Evans, spokeswoman for the Daycare Trust, said a probation order or suspended prison sentence would have been fairer to the child, who now faced further trauma.

The mother said she left the child unattended during the day because 'it was a choice between food and clothes and a childminder'.

The mother, aged 23, who lived in a bedsit in Essex before being offered a job with her uncle's travel agency in Stratford-upon-Avon, first paid pounds 50 a week for her daughter to be minded at a farm. The wage of the childminder accounted for half of her pounds 100 take- home pay.

The child developed asthma and had to be taken away from the farm. Unable to afford another childminder, the mother chose to leave her child at home - with a drink, toys and the television on.

Ms Evans said the case was not an isolated one. 'It is fairly common for women to leave children at home if arrangements for their care fall down. Not all employees are sympathetic to the presence of sick or wandering children in the workplace.'

Mrs Bottomley said yesterday that child care facilities in Britain were meeting the needs of women who wanted to work.

'Overall, the number of places in registered day nurseries has doubled since 1989,' she said.

A spokeswoman for the National Council for One Parent Families said any increase in nursery school places was confined to the private sector. The facilities Mrs Bottomley spoke of were not a viable option for a single parent on a low income.

The weekly income of the mother would have amounted to pounds 147.60: pounds 100 take-home pay, pounds 31.55 family credit, pounds 10 child benefit, pounds 6.05 one parent benefit. Of this, rent would account for pounds 28 and council tax for pounds 9. The remaining pounds 110.60 would have been taken up with house bills, food, clothes, repairs and transport.

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire County Council said a private nursery might have been an option - at a cost of pounds 90 a week. The alternative option would be to employ a childminder: salaries started at pounds 50 a week.

Across the country, free nursery school places are available for three to five-year-olds but queues are long, most places are part-time and nurseries can only cater for 20 per cent of the under-fives population.

For working parents who are not assigned a place, 20 per cent rely on friends and family for child care, 9 per cent employ childminders and 14 per cent look to the private sector.

Scandinavia is cited as having the most advanced child care. In Finland and Sweden, cash and nurseries are provided to encourage lone and married mothers to return to work once their children are over 18 months. Child care is designed to be affordable and flexible, and lone mothers are given priority.

Free care is provided in the United States for the children of single parents on welfare who take part in job training programmes. For wealthier parents who wish to put their children in private child care, there are tax deductions.

Britain's record on publicly funded day care places for under-threes is the worst in Europe, along with Ireland and Portugal: less than 1 per cent of Britain's under-threes are in publicly funded day care.

(Graph omitted)

Letters, page 19

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road