Mother jailed for five years after two-year-old drowns in pond

The scene of the tragedy. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
The scene of the tragedy. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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A MOTHER who ignored warnings about the dangers of a pond in her garden was on the social networking site Facebook when her two-year-old son fell in and drowned.

Claire Barnett, 31, was sentenced to five years in jail after a Judge heard she had been reported to the NSPCC the year previously for regularly allowing her son Joshua to play out of her sight in the street and he had narrowly avoided being run over by a car.

The scene of the tragedy. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

The scene of the tragedy. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

Hull Crown Court heard that Joshua was playing in the garden of her four-bedroomed detached rental home in Woodmansey, near Beverley, last March, and she was in the lounge, when she became distracted by a message that popped up on Facebook.

The court heard that the pond was 13m in length, around 30m from the house and easily accessible. In parts it was 50cm deep.

When she realised what happened Barnett ran to the pond, called 999 and gave CPR, but the child later died in hospital.

Mr Moulson said she had been warned by her family of the dangers of the pond and she had said she would have it fenced off or get a mesh put over it, but she did nothing.

Claire Barnett

Claire Barnett

No one could say exactly how long the child had been in the pond but it may have been as little as 20 seconds.

The court heard that Barnett, who has since returned to Nottingham, gave different accounts to different people and exactly what happened may never be known.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said: “It is so plain and obvious that a large pond of this kind, that was comparatively deep, was a danger ordinarily.

“That sort of thing puts terror in the minds of most ordinary parents and they take steps to protect their children.

“One only has to see good, decent mothers by the side of a duck pond and they are watching like hawks.”

At a previous address at Chancewaters, on the Kingswood estate near Hull, over the summer of 2013, neighbours saw Joshua and another child playing unsupervised two or three times a week. On one occasion in August 2013 a number of people saw them nearly run over by an Astra.

The NSPCC was contacted after the children were seen without supervision, shoeless and inadequately clothed.

It was referred to social services in Hull but they found “no grounds for concern” and took no action.

The Judge called Barnett an “awful parent”, telling her had been “repeatedly neglectful” and that he regarded her as posing “very serious risks to any child to whom you might have responsibility.”

Detective Chief Inspector Wendy North said: “Claire Barnett has pleaded guilty to four counts of child neglect. Every child has a right to be protected from harm, just as every parent has an obligation to protect and safeguard their children.

“That Joshua Barnett, just days from his third birthday, has lost his life due to a lack of the most basic level of care and supervision must only add to the devastating loss that the family has suffered. Our thoughts remain with the wider family as they try to come to terms with their terrible loss.”