Leeds mum tried to flee country with three children to escape social services after subjecting them to heartbreaking neglect

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A mother who planned to run away from her home in Leeds to the Czech Republic with her three children to stop social services taking them away has been sent to prison.

A court heard disturbing details of the neglect suffered by two children and their baby brother as the woman and her husband prioritised drugs over their care.

Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court heard how the mother would keep methadone in a fridge which could be accessed by her children.

Social workers visited the woman's home in Leeds to find that the children had not been properly fed, were not properly washed and were not kept safe.

One of the children, aged six, was allowed to roam the streets alone with no awareness of the danger of strangers.

Two of the children also had eye problems which were not treated properly by a doctor because of the mother's neglect.

The youngest child was born with symptoms of drug dependency.

Social services intervened on many occasions throughout the children's lives to help the family.

Efforts were made for the children to attend a breakfast club but she became angry and refused to let them get on a bus to go there.

The youngsters were sent to school without any uniform.

Staff made arrangements to provide them with uniforms so they would not feel different to the other children.

Social workers also provided the children with toys for comfort which were never seen again.

Heather Gilmore, prosecuting, said a Leeds Family Court judge made orders for the recovery of the children on October 29 last year.

Later the same day social workers contacted police after going to the defendant's home to find that no one was there.

Miss Gilmore said the woman had arranged for a friend to pick them up and take them to his home in Wakefield.

The defendant told the friend that social services planned to take the children from her.

She said her partner, who is the father of two of the children, had gone to Halifax to get travel documents as they planned to take the children to the Czech Republic.

The woman's friend managed to convince the mother to contact police on the morning of October 31.

She was arrested and the three children were taken to Elland Road police station in Leeds where they were looked after by an officer.

Miss Gilmore said: "She described them as looking and smelling dirty and unwashed. Their clothes were dirty and they appeared tired."

One of the children told the officer that he had been given beans to eat that day and the baby had been given water but not milk.

The baby smelled of urine and vomit, had cradle cap and a red sore on his body.

The teeth of one of the older children were black and rotten.

The older children were underweight, smelled strongly of stale smoke and had matted and greasy hair

The defendant was interviewed and was frank with police about how she had neglected her children.

She described herself as a "s*** mum" who had put her addiction to drugs above her children's needs.

The mother said she used Class A drugs three or four times per week, spending around £30 each time.

She told officers she would take the drugs while her children were at school or in bed and that she also took methadone.

Miss Gilmore said: "She said she had been a drug addict for eight years and continued to use throughout three pregnancies."

The defendant told officers that things had become worse in the past two weeks.

She said she had stopped cooking for the youngsters and fed them takeaways.

The woman also admitted that she had "given up" on trying to keep the house clean.

The prosecutor said: "She agreed that she had not taken care of the three children and that she was a s*** mum."

The defendant went on to admit that she had taken the decision along with her partner to leave the country with the children and take them to the Czech Republic.

She said her plan was to remove the children to the house in Wakefield then return to Leeds to collect travel documents from her home.

She pleaded guilty to three counts of cruelty to a child under 13 and three counts of taking a child out of care without lawful authority.

The offending took place between May 2017 and October 2019.

The defendant's partner is still at large and is wanted by police.

The children have now been placed in foster care.

The court heard the baby grew four centimetres and put on two pounds within weeks of receiving appropriate care.

A report stated that the older children were "delighted" and "amazed" to experience normal things in life like having proper clothing and clean beds.

Susannah Proctor, mitigating, said the defendant had been the victim of domestic violence during the relationship with her partner.

Ms Proctor said her client was ashamed of what she done to her children.

She said: "These are acts of omission on her part, and not commission.

"She has completely failed in her responsibilities to the children and she accepts that in its entirety.

"She was, in her belief, doing the best she could. It was simply not good enough.

"That was as a result of her drug addiction which has taken over her entire life.

"None of this she puts forward as an excuse for her behaviour. It is sadly an explanation as to how she found herself in this situation.

"She takes full responsibility for that and for it she will pay a heavy price."

The woman was sent to prison for two years and 11 months.

Judge Robin Mairs said: "This was in my estimation a determined attempt to remove the children from the UK and the safety of social services care they so desperately needed.

"The neglect took place over a sustained period, in spite of repeated attempts to assist your family by professionals.

"I accept that your drug addiction has consumed your life over the last ten years, but you inflicted that addiction upon your children.

"I do not know what the family courts will do with the children. They will have their welfare at the very centre of their considerations.

"Your partner richly deserves to be sentenced alongside you."