Mother left baby, three youngsters alone to go on 24-hour binge
18/01/2010 - 14:54:58
A young woman who abandoned her four young children to go on a 24-hour drink and drug binge walked free from court in the UK today, despite breaching the terms of her suspended sentence.
Rebecca Stevenson, 23, broke the rules of her curfew but was given “another chance” by Judge Norman Wright.
Stevenson, from Blackburn, Lancashire in England, left her two sons and two daughters, aged between three months and four years, home alone to fend for themselves in July last year.
Her one-year-old son was found “hysterical” and soaked in urine, as was her three-month-old boy, who was also covered in sick in his cot.
Her four-year-old daughter was discovered leaning out of the lounge window, having tried to feed the baby using a chair to climb up to a cupboard to reach a tin of powdered milk.
Stevenson was given a 20-week jail term, suspended for two years, in November, after pleading guilty to four counts of child cruelty.
Judge Wright also imposed an eight-week curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am, and warned the young woman that she would face jail if she breached it.
Stevenson breached the curfew on New Year’s Day, Lancaster Crown Court heard, and was so drunk she could not remember where she had gone.
But instead of jailing her, the judge decided to impose another curfew, and even acknowledged she did not “give a jot” about his original order.
“It seems to me it would be unjust today to implement that sentence so I am going to give you one further chance.
“There will be no second chance,” he said.
Stevenson, who lives with a friend in Farnworth, Greater Manchester, broke the curfew at just before midnight on January 1, when she left the house and returned 15 minutes later.
She also went out for five minutes at 2.30am, the court heard.
And at 2.50am she left the house and did not return until 4.30am.
She had also failed to attend a probation appointment on New Year’s Eve, the court heard.
Richard Bennett, defending, said Stevenson had suffered due to the attention she has received since the court case.
“I hesitate to use the word 'hounding', but certainly she was pursued enthusiastically,” he said.
The mother of four was looking after a friend’s dog and only left the house to let it out in the garden, which set her tag off, Mr Bennett said.
The longer breach happened because a friend came round and took her out in his car, he said.
“She cannot remember where they went because she had consumed a large amount of alcohol,” he said.
Judge Wright imposed another curfew, which will last for four weeks, from 8pm to 7am.
“I am sorry to see you back before me. I had hoped with the last time that you would heed the warning that I gave you.
“You will have been under no illusions that when you were fortunate to receive a suspended sentence and that, were you to breach it, almost inevitably there would be a custodial sentence.
“Whilst somewhat sceptical, I am prepared to accept your explanation of letting a dog out, but that does not apply to your further breach when you did exactly what you did last time.
“You went off for your own selfish pleasure and you could not have given a jot about the order I made.
"It would be easy to give a knee-jerk response and say you go to prison. There will be no second chance and your stories about letting your dog out won’t wash. There is a simple solution here, do not drink, or you will be sentencing yourself.”
Stevenson, wearing a white coat and pink top, smiled with relief when the judgment was made.
She has no contact with her two sons, who now live in Scotland with her extended family, but she sees her two daughters every week during supervised visits.