Neglect death mother spared jail
A mother whose neglected two-year-old son died a prolonged and horrible death after drinking poisonous plant food has walked free from court.
Lauren Booth, 24, was growing cannabis in her home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and was asleep when her son Aaron drank the toxic liquid.
She was handed a 12-month suspended sentence at Bradford Crown Court after being found guilty of child neglect.
Aaron had not been fed and was probably extremely hungry and thirsty when he drank the liquid, the trial heard. He died 11 days later after his windpipe disintegrated and he suffered several other injuries, including burns to his stomach, pancreas and spleen.
Judge Colin Burn described the toddler's death as terrible as he sentenced Booth, saying: "Aaron's death was, on the evidence, a prolonged and frankly horrible one. And it was preventable."
Booth's partner at the time had taken the pH Up brand plant food into the house in Norris Close, Judge Burn said. The blue bottle contained a highly toxic concentration of potassium hydroxide, or caustic potash, and two teaspoons of it would have been a fatal dose.
It was thought that Aaron, who was described as being at an age where any new item was a curiosity or a challenge, may have mistaken the bottle for the soft drink Fruit Shoot.
Judge Burn told Booth: "You knew that the content of that bottle of plant-growing liquid could be harmful to Aaron, you knew that there was the risk that Aaron could get to the bottle. You failed to take proper steps to prevent him getting to that bottle."
He said Booth was a loving mother to Aaron and tried her best to look after him but made some poor judgments, adding: "You will have to live with his death long after any sentence from this court has been served."
Judge Burn said an immediate prison sentence would not benefit the public or Booth, who has since had another child. He said reports showed that she did not pose any risk to her children and rehabilitation would help her to become a "proper, appropriate, satisfactory, at least adequate parent in the future".