Holiday mother escapes jail

A mother who abandoned four of her children for a week to go on holiday with her boyfriend to the Canary Islands escaped jail today.

The 44-year-old woman left the children, aged between five and 13, to fend for themselves when she couldn't find anyone to look after them.

But the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, walked free from court after a judge decided that her children would be "better protected" by her being made subject to a community rehabilitation order.

The woman, from Ham, south west London, was found guilty last month of four charges of cruelty towards a person under 16, which she had denied, following a trial at Kingston Crown Court.

The trial had heard how the mother originally arranged for her sister to look after her children while she went on holiday to Gran Canaria.

But she became "desperate" when her sister told her she was ill and could no longer do so.

She left her 11-year-old son in the care of a childminder for the week, but arranged just one night's supervision for her other four children - two boys and two girls - at the home of one of her daughter's school friends.

She gave one of her daughters £40 and a note saying that her eldest child, her 13-year-old son, would take care of them.

She expected her eldest son to pick the other children up from school and cook them dinner, the trial was told.


At her sentencing hearing at Kingston Crown Court today, Judge Charles Tilling told the woman that her actions were "selfish".

He said that had she simply abandoned her children he would have had no option but to impose an immediate prison sentence.

However, he said he thought her children would be better protected by her being made subject to a two-year community rehabilitation order.

He said: "From the evidence given at your trial I am satisfied that you made initially what you thought were adequate arrangements for your children to be looked after by your sister.

"But when she made it clear that she could no longer look after the children I am satisfied that what you then did was to persuade your neighbour to have them for one night in the hope that she would feel obliged, come the Monday, to keep them for the rest of the week. Your actions were very selfish."

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