A TODDLER was found wandering the streets with a soiled nappy after being left home along by her mother, a court has heard.
The single mother thought it was safe to leave her three-year-old daughter locked in the flat after her childminder failed to turn up.
However, Livingston Sheriff Court heard the youngster unlocked the door with a spare key and walked to a local shop in her pyjamas.
She was found wandering the streets of Whitburn, West Lothian, with a soiled nappy and covered in dirt.
It was more than five hours later that the mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – called police and reported her daughter missing after she came home from work.
Lindsey Armstrong, prosecuting, said a member of the public spotted the youngster wandering in the street at around 2pm on 22 July.
She said: “The child was alone at that time wearing her pyjamas. She couldn’t provide her name or details of her home address.
“Police attended and the child appeared to be happy enough. A crowd had gathered but nobody recognised the girl and it was confirmed that no-one had come looking for her.”
Miss Armstrong said the youngster’s general appearance was unclean.
“Her face and body were covered in dirt, her hands and feet were extremely dirty and she’d soiled her nappy some time previously.”
Police took the girl to Whitburn Health Centre, where a nurse washed her and threw her filthy dummy in the bin.
She was then taken to St John’s hospital in Livingston for a medical examination but no concerns were identified.
Just after 5:30 that evening, the accused phoned the police to report that her daughter had gone missing from her home address.
At first she claimed that she had fallen asleep on the sofa before the girl left, but later confessed that she had actually left her daughter and had been at work all day.
When interviewed, she admitted that she had left her child in the house because she “had to work” and could not find a childminder.
The mother appeared for sentence yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to child neglect.
Iain Smith, defending, said his client had struggled to cope with depression and had stopped taking her medication two weeks earlier after discovering she was pregnant.
He said: “Her sister was due to look after the child that day but had let her down and she made the inexplicable decision to go to work.
“She doesn’t seek to excuse that. She understands that it’s wholly wrong and, although the report doesn’t adequately convey the position, she’s full of remorse and she can’t believe the decision that she took.”
He said that the accused had voluntarily agreed to allow her daughter to be placed in foster care, but hoped to get her back in the near future.
“She obviously suffers from depression. She failed her child fairly dramatically.”
Sheriff Donald Ferguson told the woman: “This is a serious matter and it could have ended up an absolute tragedy.
“This is a terrible thing that happened and I do know you’ve suffered since then. It’s nevertheless a very serious criminal offence.
“Local people must have been very concerned coming across the child. I think there has to be an element of payback from that.
“You have to work very hard to demonstrate that you can be trusted with your child again.”
He sentenced the woman to a community payback order under which she will be supervised by social workers for 12 months.