A MUM and dad who willfully neglected their children for several years were not sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday because of a dispute between prosecution and defence.
The county pair, who cannot be named, do not accept some aspects of the prosecution case – particularly about their alleged failure to keep medical appointments for the children.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC adjourned the case so prosecution and defence lawyers can confer and, if necessary, a trial of issue can be held to resolve the dispute.
Steve Young, defending, said prosecution assertions that the mother had prevented her children from seeing doctors and visiting clinics and hospitals were not accepted.
He had checked the medical records and she had kept 120 appointments with her children and missed only about 25, he said. “It is not accepted that she was obstructive to health professionals,” he added.
She also maintained that a probation officer who interviewed her for a pre-sentence report had told her she would recommend a suspended jail sentence but had not done so, said Mr Young.
At the last hearing the prosecution said the couple neglected the children in a filthy, stinking house for “many years”, despite teachers, social workers and health professionals knowing of their plight.
Judge Tabor said it was clear prosecution and defence were “miles apart” on many aspects of the case and it would be necessary to try to sort out the differences. “We cannot have someone being sentenced on a basis where a defendant and her advocate are saying ‘this is simply not right’,” he said.
He granted the couple bail, saying if their claims are accepted by the court it could make a significant difference to the length of jail sentence they receive and whether it is suspended.
All the children are now in care. A date for the next hearing has not yet been set.