Disgraced parents Rasa and Quamar Zaman from Newtownards received suspended jail sentences last week after they were each convicted of three counts of cruelty over the shocking incident at Bangor’s Springhill Shopping Centre.
Mum Rasa, 35, sobbed as the court heard how a concerned shopper raised the alarm after spotting the kids sleeping alone in the car at around 4pm on June 25 last year.
The woman was worried because it was a very warm day, the car windows were closed and all three children were wearing coats.
The children included a baby boy with Down’s Syndrome while the eldest was just two-years-old, Newtownards Magistrate’s Court was told.
Tannoy announcements were made in nearby New Look and Tesco stores to summon the Zamans, but to no avail.
At 4.25pm, the eldest child awoke and started crying, but the Zamans from Windsor Avenue, Newtownards were still nowhere to be found.
At 4.50pm, after police had been called, the couple returned to their car and were described in court as being “unconcerned with the situation”.
Rasa Zaman then went on to blame the government, stating that they should give her family more support. It later emerged that because 33-year-old Qamar Zaman does not speak English very well, he and his wife had left the children in their car so she could help him shop for clothes in Sports Direct.
The couple made full admissions about what they had done to police, and the three Zaman children have been on the child safety register since the incident.
District Judge Mark Hamill said it was “a difficult sentencing case”.
As Rasa Zaman wept, her solicitor told the court: “She has been left very upset and ashamed by this.” Mr Hamill replied: “So she should be. They should both be highly embarrassed.”
The solicitor said the couple had no support from family and friends when it came to caring for their children.
It was added that social services had “been all over” the family since the incident.
“Both are making their way in this country, both are working,” he said.
“Things have been going well with social services and the children’s protection is due to be downgraded, hopefully by this summer.”
Noting that one of the Zaman children was particularly vulnerable because of his disability, he added: “Mrs Zaman would also say at the time she was still struggling to come to terms with the fact her child had Down’s Syndrome and was making her own journey of acceptance.”
Mr Hamill told the pair: “I am going to mark the serious of this offence.”
He sentenced the Zamans to two months in jail for each of the three charges of cruelty to a person under 16 but suspended the prison term for three years.
He added: “If anything else happens to these children — it will result in immediate prison.
“I’m sure social services will continue to take an interest in the welfare of these children.”