Parents turned on social workers on rescue mission

Lanark Sheriff Court - Sheriff Nikola Stewart.
Lanark Sheriff Court - Sheriff Nikola Stewart.

Lanark Sheriff Court sat in stunned silence as it heard how social workers endured a torrent of abuse as they rescued a child from its neglectful parents.

The couple, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, sat passively in the dock as the details of the events of December 2 last year at their home in a Lanark street were related.

Both had previously pleaded guilty to having, on that date, wilfully neglected their baby son by being highly intoxicated and unable to properly care for their child who was found dressed in dirty clothing, in a soiled nappy and without adequate food or liquid. The child was also suffering bruising to its face.

They also admitted, on the same day, behaving in a threatening manner likely to cause fear by shouting and swearing at social workers.

The court heard that, at 3.30pm, two social workers had made a surprise visit to the home to check on the child’s wellbeing.

For five minutes there was no response to their knocking but they then heard a child inside the house screaming and crying. The door was eventually opened by the child’s father who was unsteady on his feet and slurring his speech.

After asking where the child was, a friend of the couple eventually appeared with the youngster. The social workers asked where the child’s mother was and were told she was sleeping. She eventually appeared in the livingroom, obviously under the influence of either drugs or drink. The social workers pointed out to her that the child’s nappy was saturated; they had also noted the child’s babygrow was filthy and he had bruises on his cheek and forehead. He was later found to also have a lump behind his ear.

The mother tried to change the nappy but was incapable of doing so. The social workers completed the change before leaving and they immediately called the police who arrived at 4.35pm.

The social workers came back into the house with officers to take the child away into care; an inspection of the kitchen revealed only a single jar of babyfood and no suitable drinking liquid for the child.

As the social workers prepared to take the child away, both parents started shouting and swearing, acting aggressively and threatened them. The couple were arrested.

Sentencing, Sheriff Nikola Stewart said that she understood the couple had their difficulties but “there is absolutely no excuse for your total abandonment of your parental duties.”

She sentenced both to an 18 month Community Payback Order.