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Drunk couple left 16-month-old daughter home alone to get takeaway then crashed car with newborn son sitting on mother's lap
Police found toddler at home in urine-soaked nappy after late-night crash
22:39 GMT, 19 December 2012
A couple who left their 16-month-old daughter at home alone while they drove to get a takeaway with their newborn baby were caught after the drunken father crashed the car on a motorway slip-road.
Police officers found the baby boy had been sitting on his mother's lap when his father crashed the car late at night.
And when the parents were taken to hospital for checks, they told staff their other child was being cared for by a relative when this was not the case.
The parents (pictured) are alleged to have left a 16-month alone to collect a takeaway. The court heard that during the journey the drunken father crashed the car while his newborn child was on his partner's lap
Crawley Magistrates' Court: Both the mother and the father admitted neglect
The husband, 32, and wife, 34, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in front of Crawley magistrates last week to admit neglect.
The court heard how the couple, of Crawley, West Sussex, left their home late at night on June 3 this year before the husband crashed his car into a barrier on a slip-road leading to the M23 motorway at 1.20am.
The pair told officers they were going for a takeaway, but were arrested when police realised the three-week-old baby boy was not strapped into a car seat but was sitting on his mother's lap.
A roadside breath test also found that the father, who was driving, was nearly two times over the drink drive limit.
The court heard how the couple did not tell police their toddler was at home by herself, even when they were taken to hospital for routine check-ups after the crash.
Kelly Murror, prosecuting, told the court the couple only admitted the truth about their other child when they realised they were not going home from hospital.
She said: 'They left their 16-month-old at the home address unsupervised.
'Hospital staff were initially told the other baby was being looked after by a relative. The truth was that there was no relative, which they shared [with hospital staff] when they realised they were not going home.'
She added: 'Officers found the baby in its cot with its nappy soaked with urine.
'Hospital staff were initially told the other baby was being looked after by a relative. The truth was that there was no relative'.
– Kelly Murror, prosecuting
'Police noted a lamp was on the table next to the cot with a towel wrapped round it. This was hot to touch and a potential fire risk if left for much longer.'
Jane Penny, defending, told the court the couple had wanted to get a takeaway meal, but had thought they would only be gone for a short time.
She said the baby boy was taken out
of the car seat during the journey because he was 'restless', and the
mother wanted to calm him down.
She said: 'They did not think they would be away from their daughter for any length of time – they thought it was going to be a short journey.
'There was a lack of consequential thinking, and they both accept that. What is clear is they are a loving family but a family under stress.
'The father works long and hard hours and his wife was feeling low and isolated without adult company.'
The court heard how the two children were taken into care by social services for a month before being returned to the couple.
The husband admitted neglecting his daughter and was sentenced to four weeks in prison, suspended, and ordered to go on an alcohol intervention course.
His wife admitting neglect of their son and was sentenced to a 12-month community order.
The husband was also banned from driving for 16 months and fined 350 for the driving offence, while the pair had to pay 85 court costs.