Latvian Linda Bluma was sleeping off a drinking session when the child let herself out of the home in which they were living.
Around 9.45am on January 9 last year a traffic warden saw a girl he thought aged around three to four pushing the button at a pedestrian crossing at Marshway and heading towards the bus station, apparently alone.
At 10am a market trader approached a police community support officer saying she too had seen a child alone and had sent her son to follow her while she got help.
They were able to catch up with the girl who was wearing tights, shoes and a sleeveless coat which were not up to the icy and frozen conditions, Michael Jowett prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
A member of staff from a charity shop brought out some warm clothing for the little girl, who was also given some food and a drink before she was taken to Wood Street police station.
By the time the community support officer had alerted her control another officer elsewhere had been approached about a missing girl, at first it was thought by one of the girl’s parents but it turned out to be a friend of Bluma.
When Bluma arrived at the police station at 12.15pm she smelled strongly of stale intoxicants. She told officers she had an argument with a friend around 2am. When she woke at 7.30am her daughter was in bed next to her but when she woke again later she had gone.
She thought the girl had stood on a bike to open the door and said she had done it once before using a chair. She also thought the girl might have been trying to visit her father who lived elsewhere.
Bluma, 25, of no fixed address was found guilty in her absence by magistrates of neglect and failing to attend court and was committed to Crown Court for sentence.
Richard Butters representing her said it was a sad case. “The court is not dealing with an evil girl who set out to harm her child. She’s a young girl deficient in parenting, immature.”
She had a troubled upbringing in Latvia and arriving in Britain around five years ago had taken to drinking large amounts of vodka along with lager and beer. “That was a pivotal factor contributing to her neglect.”
She had not faced up to her problems last year and went on the run leaving a bail hostel and not seeing her daughter since, possibly risking her chance of resuming their relationship as a result.
Since then she had worked as a waitress near Grassington trying to get her life together.
Jailing Bluma, Judge Gillian Matthews QC said she was fortunate her daughter had not been run over or abducted that morning.