Children in car: mother spared jail
A mother who left her three young children in a car in dangerously hot conditions has been spared a jail sentence.
The youngsters, aged between two and eight, were left for 45 minutes in temperatures of 40C (104F) inside the vehicle.
Kelly Marie Langham, 26, of Carlisle, told magistrates she thought she would only be away for a few minutes as she popped to a city centre pawnbrokers. She left the car windows slightly wound down but said she did not appreciate that the heat could rise to the extent it did.
A member of the public phoned police when he heard the repeated sounding of a car horn in Chapel Street, Carlisle, on the morning of July 4 and went to investigate. Two young children were in the small saloon car along with a distressed baby who was strapped in a seat and they were said to have been left traumatised after being removed from the vehicle.
The single mother was ordered to complete a one-year community order under the supervision of Cumbria Action Social Support, focused on helping her develop better parenting skills, with a six month drug treatment order.
Sally Metcalfe Gibson, chairman of the bench at Carlisle Magistrates' Court, ordered Langham to pay £50 costs from her benefits in instalments of £5.
Ms Metcalfe Gibson said: "This was a serious offence but you are a person of good character with no previous convictions. You have had significant problems coping with the absence of your partner, three young children to care for, the lack of secure housing and your drug use."
Langham, who spoke only to answer her name and address during the short hearing, appeared tired and had dark circles under her eyes. When she was arrested, she told police she had earlier taken amphetamine and police later found a small amount of the banned substance at her home, on her kitchen window sill.
Her solicitor, Claire Kirkpatrick, told the court her client did not intend to leave her children in the car for so long in "dangerously high heat" and her thinking was "not how it should have been. This has been a wake-up call for her. She has significant problems for someone who is a single parent of 26-years-old with three young children."
Speaking outside the court, Detective Inspector Kim Fulton said: "Kelly Langham made a serious error of judgment which today resulted in her receiving a community-based sentence. Even with the windows slightly wound down, the temperature got dangerously hot. Thankfully, the actions of a member of public prevented [the children] from coming to more serious harm."