Child neglect charge mum's 'living hell'
Last updated at 17:09, Thursday, 27 March 2014
A mother who was accused of child neglect along with her partner says that she has endured “a living hell”.
A Carlisle Crown Court judge last week told a jury to return not guilty verdicts against the couple after he identified serious “inconsistencies” in evidence from a key prosecution witness.
The trial had earlier heard the prosecution claim that the north Cumbrian couple abandoned the woman’s 12-year-old son as they went on a week long holiday to Spain.
Speaking publicly about her ordeal for the first time, the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave her side of the story and described the emotional agony of being parted from her son.
She said: “The last 11 months have been a living hell, and now we’re picking up the pieces from something that should never have happened in the first place.”
The woman said she and her husband had made what they believed were firm arrangements with a long-term friend who they understood would stay with their son while they were away from their home near Penrith.
“But he failed to stay with our son overnight, and we only found out on the third day while we were away,” she said. Feeling furious and “let down”, the couple were desperately worried, though they believed the boy coped well during their absence.
The suggestion from her defence team was that the situation was the result of confusion rather than any deliberate abandonment.
For the couple, the experience quickly became a nightmare as they took a call in Spain from a police officer.
They were arrested shortly after arriving home, and the mother spent a whole day being quizzed by officers.
Far worse was the realisation that her son was being taken away to live with a relative hundreds of miles away and until after the trial he would be allowed only brief and supervised contact with his mother.
She said: “I’ve been allowed to see him only eight times for six hours in the last year.
“It has been horrendous. Apart from that, the only contact I’ve been able to have with him is by email, passed on through a social worker.
“For nearly a year, I’ve had sleepless nights and nightmares. I’ve had days when it’s been hard to get out of bed because I’ve been so depressed.
“As a mother, your worst fear is having your child taken away from you. Our son has been very strong – we call him our absolute star.
“But he was taken away from his home, from his school, and from his friends, but somehow he’s stayed positive. I used to hear people use the word heartbreaking, and over this last year I have come to understand what that word really means.
“There have been times when I haven’t wanted to carry on. My children mean everything to me.
“I feel that the way this case was handled was completely disproportionate. It also virtually bankrupted us.
“My son will be with be with us for the weekend, and he’ll be the best Mother’s Day present I could ever have.”
John Dilworth, Acting Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said the police evidence file on the case was thoroughly reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
He said: “A decision was made that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to bring a prosecution against them on a charge of child neglect.”
He said the defence move to have the case dismissed resulted from “evidential developments” during the trial” and the CPS respected the judge’s decision to scrap it.
A Cumbria police spokeswoman said the force took the safety of children and young people in Cumbria very seriously, and would investigate where appropriate, adding: “Our priority is the safety of the child, and we work hard to keep vulnerable people safe.”
As he concluded the case last week, Judge Batty said there had been no suggestion that in other circumstances the couple were “anything other than excellent parents”.
First published at 17:06, Thursday, 27 March 2014
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
- Cumbrian MP: We need second jobs (48 comments)
- Cumbrian brothers plan to swim the River Eden (3 comments)
- Carlisle on course to set bizarre club record (2 comments)
- Carlisle barber retiring after 54 years (9 comments)
- Housebuilder reveals plans for hundreds of new homes (39 comments)
- Carlisle shopping centre on sale for £1.5m (30 comments)
- Carlisle's Civic Centre to stop taking cash payments (14 comments)
- Staff moved so Cumbrian council can rent out office (5 comments)
- Premier Inn gets go-ahead for town centre hotel (14 comments)
- Carlisle Cathedral revamp plans slammed (39 comments)
- Why is Cumbrian coastguard HQ being moved inland? (21 comments)