Neighbours fought to rescue a six-year-old boy from a burning flat after he was left locked in his home alone.
Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday the youngster’s mother had gone shopping with her partner but he said he had been left behind because he had been naughty.
Ewan McLachlan, prosecuting, said a woman visiting another flat nearby in Leeds heard banging and when she went outside saw the boy screaming “help me, fire” at the window of his first floor home.
She called the fire brigade while desperate neighbours got a ladder up to the flat which was filling with smoke.
The boy put his head out through the top of the kitchen window but the opening was only a foot square and not big enough to pull him through.
The youngster was being sick from the billowing black smoke and those on the ground could smell the UPVC windows were melting.
Fortunately at that point the fire brigade arrived and went into the flat to rescue the screaming youngster.
They later discovered the seat of the fire was in a small bedroom where the curtains had been set alight and the metal top of a lighter was found on the bed.
The boy told a special constable he started the fire because he hated his mother’s boyfriend who stopped him going to shop with his mother and who “shouts and swears”.
By then the boy’s mother had returned to the property saying she had only been gone a short while.
A check at the supermarket revealed she and her partner were inside the store for 15 minutes in addition to the travelling time.
The 26-year-old mother who admitted neglect of her son who cannot be identified, was given a 12 months prison sentence suspended for two years with a 30 day activity requirement.
The court heard the boy is currently in foster care.
Kama Melly representing his mother, who is pregnant again, said she hoped to reunite the family in the future. She appreciated the seriousness of what she had done “and what could have been the tragic consequences”.
Judge Sally Cahill QC told the mother: “Six-year-old children should never be left unsupervised. They are not old enough, they need somebody there to make sure they don’t get into situations which can be dangerous for them, that’s exactly what happened.”
“You might now have been attending a funeral, for him it was absolutely terrifying, for your neighbours it was scary and dangerous as they tried to save him and you put the fire service at risk who had to go in to get him out, there is absolutely no excuse at all.”
She said the fact she was saying she had only been out a short time showed she was still trying to minimise what she had done and warned her: “Make sure you don’t ever do something like this again.”