Parents jailed for neglect of malnourished toddler which led to her death

The parents of a malnourished toddler who died have been jailed for more than six years after admitting neglect.

Lauren Wade died in hospital from complications arising from malnutrition aged two years and five months on March 20, 2015.

Medical staff found she was extremely thin and infested with head lice when she was brought in earlier that day after being found unresponsive on a couch in her home in Glasgow.

Her parents Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, admitted wilfully ill-treating and neglecting the child last month, and also pleaded guilty to similar charges in respect of two older children.

They were each sentenced to six years and four months behind bars when they appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday.

Sentencing the pair, Lady Stacey said: “You have pled guilty to three very serious charges. These charges relate to three separate children but as would be expected, these charges overlap and the charges seem to refer to the same basic ill-treatment and neglect which exposed each of the children to the likelihood of suffering and injury to health and led ultimately to the death of your daughter.

“She had been provided with inadequate diet as a result of which she was malnourished.

“Complications arising from that malnutrition caused the child to die at a very young age.”

Wade, Lauren’s birth mother, and Sweeney admitted they wilfully ill-treated and neglected the child in a manner likely to cause her unnecessary suffering or injury to her health through a series of failings in her care between June 2014 and March 2015.

They admitted failing to provide adequate nutrition and fluids and failed to bathe her and maintain her personal hygiene.

The court heard she was “dirty and smelly” when she arrived at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Yorkhill in March 2015, and thousands of head lice were found on her hair and body.

When authorities went to the family home in the Sighthill area, they found decomposing food, dirty dishes and flies and insects, while the kitchen was inaccessible due to the amount of bin bags piled up inside.

Wade and Sweeney also admitted similar charges relating to two older children between August 2007 and March 2015.

They were both jailed for six years and four months for the charge relating to Lauren and three years for the offences relating to the other children, with the sentences to run concurrently.

Brian McConnachie QC, representing Wade, said she had mental health problems which had affected her ability to care for the children.

He said: “Ms Wade accepts full responsibility for the manner in which the various children and Lauren in particular were neglected over the period referred to.

“My submission is that her mental health difficulties at the time were partially responsible for the manner in which these offences took place.

“She appears to have got to the stage where not only was she ignoring her own health but also the health of the children.”

Ian Duguid QC, representing Sweeney, said the older children attended school and dance classes and there was an “extraordinary contrast” between their life outside the flat and circumstances within it.

He said: “There was no attempt to conceal anything that was going on with these children.”

He added: “She feels extraordinarily sad she has let these children down as badly as she did, particularly in Lauren’s case.”

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