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

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone