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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Drug addicted Carlisle couple fail to get child neglect jail sentence overturned

A drug addicted couple who exposed their baby son to appalling risk have failed to overturn a 26-week jail term imposed by magistrates.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how horrified onlookers saw 25-year-old Roxanne Irving swerving in front of traffic as she pushed her now one-year-old baby son in his pram last November.

A van had to do an emergency stop to avoid hitting them and a short time later she was found in Carlisle city centre slumped unconscious on a pavement, her head resting on a pram wheel.

The baby’s father Gary Hetherington, 34, who like Irving was under the influence of drugs, did nothing to protect his son and at one point was heard arranging a drug deal on his mobile phone.

Police intervened after members of the public rang to express their concern.

In court yesterday, the couple’s defence lawyers argued that magistrates had been wrong to impose 26-week jail terms on the couple.

Tariq Khawam, for Hetherington, said the entire incident had lasted only 48 minutes.

“I accept they had taken drugs and drugs are the cause which needs to be addressed,” said Mr Khawam. But he pointed out that his client had taken regular drug screening tests in the weeks since the November 13 incident and all had proved negative.

The lawyer added: “Mr Hetherington takes responsibility entirely.

“He was disgusted with what occurred and he realises that he put himself before the needs of his child and knows that is unacceptable.”

Alison Whalley, defending Irving, said she had “no recollection” at all of what had happened that day.

She said: “Miss Irving regrets her actions and feels remorseful. She appreciates her son could have died.

“She scared herself. She fully accepts she is a drug addict but says she has never been like that before.”

She added that Irving had now significantly reduced her drug habit.

The couple, whose damp-ridden home in Toronto Street, Currock, was shown to the court in a police video, had both earlier admitted a single charge of child neglect.

Sitting with two magistrates, Recorder Michael Hayton QC dismissed the appeal.

He told the couple: “Having a child is a privilege and a pleasure: a privilege and a pleasure which brings with it very real responsibilities.

“Your collective behaviour on that day was astonishingly bad. You were so much under the influence, Miss Irving, of some drugs that you wandered into the road, pushing your pram with your baby son in it, in front of vehicles.

“You were walking down the street in the middle of the road.

“You, Mr Hetherington, were busying yourself purchasing heroin. You did nothing to assist your child.

“It is fortunate, indeed, that there was no serious accident; that there was no lasting harm to your child, and that members of the public contacted the authorities sufficiently quickly.”

Noting that both defendants were assessed as being of “medium risk” of causing further harm to their child, Recorder Hayton added: “In our judgement, the magistrates were entirely correct to impose the sentence that they did.”

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