Woman who left disabled girl abondoned outside house overnight walks free from court

A woman who left a disabled six-year-old outside overnight in the cold has been admonished.      

Kate Harper left the girl, who is deaf and blind, strapped in a pram outside her house. The girl was wearing just socks and a dressing gown. Harper had taken the youngster – who cannot be named for legal reasons – to a fireworks party in Kingspark, Glasgow, on Guy Fawkes night in 2009.

But the party soon turned into a drinking session, and when the 26-year-old took the girl back to her house she realised she had forgotten her keys. She left the girl to go look for them. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that a school bus driver discovered the child suffering from life-threatening hypothermia the next morning.

Sheriff Kenneth Mitchell had deferred sentencing Harper for almost a year for her to be of good behaviour. On Wednesday, he admonished her after he received a positive social work report. The sheriff added that his sentencing options were limited sue to Harper’s circumstances.

At an earlier hearing in April last year, Harper, of Glencroft Road, Kingspark, admitted culpable and reckless conduct by abandoning the girl outside her home on November 6, 2009. Prosecutor Tony Quigley told the court that Harper had taken the girl to her sister’s house, which is in the same street, for a fireworks party at around 6.30pm.

Mr Quigley said: “At about 8pm the accused and her sister and various other family members started drinking. Then at around 1.30am, Ms Harper left the party with the girl to return to her own home. At the time she left, the girl was wearing small cotton socks, a nappy and a child’s dressing gown.

“When the accused arrived at her home address she realised that she did not have her keys and couldn’t gain access to the house. She then decided to go back to her sister’s to get the keys and as there was a relatively short distance between the houses she left the child at the front door.

“Unfortunately what happened was that the accused got into bed at her sister’s and fell asleep which meant that the child was still in the pram outside her house further down the street.”

The court heard that a bus driver and classroom assistant arrived just before 8.30am the next morning to take the girl to school, where she receives supported learning.

‘Lips were blue’

Mr Quigley continued: “They saw the pram which had tipped over and noticed that the child was in it with her face pressed against the stone stairs outside the house. She was shivering and her lips were blue.”

An ambulance was called, and as paramedics treated the girl Harper was spotted walking down the street from her sister’s house. Police officers spoke to her and she told them she had very little recollection of what had happened the night before.

She was taken to Aitkenhead Road police office and later admitted abandoning the girl. The youngster was taken to Yorkhill Hospital where doctors treated her for hypothermia and bruising from the straps of the pram.

Mr Quigley added: “The circumstances were such that doctors believed there was a danger to the life of the young girl.” The court heard that the Met office estimated temperatures that night to be around three degrees Celsius.

Defence lawyer Ross Yuill said that the case was “tragic”. He said: “Ms Harper is a young lady who on one occasion has made a massive mistake. I think it’s safe to submit that this was a one off incident and the chances of it ever happening again are very limited.

“She is entirely remorseful, ashamed and embarrassed about what she did that night and says that it was the biggest mistake of her life.”