Sentence reduced for neglectful mother
A BEVERLEY mother who left her baby screaming for hours will be back home on the streets of the town before summer after the court of appeal cut her sentence by half to just 12-months.
Recovering from drink, Kelly Horner, 23, of Cherry Tree Lane, was accused of doing nothing while hearing her boyfriend deliberately shove her five-month-old baby girl’s face into scalding hot bath while he recovered from a drugs binge.
But, Judges at the Court of Appeal ruled there was no evidence she had heard the cries as she lay in bed so Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, was wrong to give her 21 months at Hull Crown Court last December.
Her defence claimed Horner, who pleaded guilty to child neglect, was the victim of her boyfriend who had not told her what he had done. He claimed he had spilt tea on her. She claimed not to have known the baby had two broken legs or that John Ward, 19, had bitten the girl.
The justices ruled at the London Criminal Appeal Court on February 27, Judge Richardson was wrong to adopt sentencing guidelines for protracted neglect when the evidence was she neglected the baby over a short-term of a few hours by not seeking medical attention for the burns.
Horner had spent most of the day of the attack in bed in the three-bed home she shared with Ward waking early to feed the baby, but passed out on a cocktail of drink and drugs revealing her hopeless parenting.
Police found her home a tip with dirty nappies thrown out into the garden. Ward admitted he had spent the weekend partying with Horner taking 30 ecstasy tablets, 20 valium, plus amphetamines, cannabis and alcohol. They both woke at 5pm.
Defence barrister John Thackray took Horner’s case to the appeal court after telling Judge Richardson: “The Crown take the view Kelly Horner’s criminality was not taking the child to the doctors earlier. The reality is she would not have been charges at all but for the fact her partner inflicted these injuries. She has already been punished. She is a victim of his offending and she is a victim of his lies.”
Mrs Justice Swift said: “There were terrible scalding injuries over most of the baby’s face.
“It should have been clear that she needed immediate hospital treatment. She was cruel to allow her to suffer for so long. Six months later, she still appeared to have little appreciation or interest in the effect of her actions on the baby.”
The judge said: “However, the sentence imposed would have been appropriate for a prolonged period of neglect, which was not present here.
“We quash the sentence of 21 months and substitute for it one of 12 months’ imprisonment, and to that extent this appeal is allowed.”
They over-ruled Judge Richardson who had told the original hearing “The baby must have experienced incalculable terror, she must have been in agony and she must have struggled.
“That baby must have screamed the house down in the aftermath of the violence visited upon her. You did nothing of any significance for five hours. You are comprehensively unfit to be a mother and I trust you never have responsibility for any other children again.”
Horner will be released early in May on electronic tag. The child is now subject to care proceedings.
Ward, who has learning difficulties, was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for grievous bodily harm with intent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and child cruelty.
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