Mother jailed for cruelty after baby son found dead
Alexander (1) charred, soiled and strapped into buggy in front of fire
Published 22/04/2010 | 05:00
A mother was jailed yesterday for more than two years for child cruelty after her 13-month-old son's charred body was found strapped in his buggy in front of a fire.
Tracey Sutherland (39) confessed to neglecting her son, Alexander, who was found by police with charring to his body, soiled clothing stuck to him and apparent bruising to the torso and forehead.
He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead later the same day, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The child also had extensive nappy rash with faeces and urine on his body when found by officers at the family home in Baguley, Manchester, on November 10 last year -- his mother's birthday.
But a pathologist's report said no direct link could be found between the mother's neglect and the tot's death.
The family was known to social services, who were criticised by Judge Clement Goldstone QC for their "startling lack of urgency" in dealing with the risk to Alexander.
Sutherland pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to child cruelty by neglect between October 29 and November 10 last year.
She displayed no reaction as she was jailed for 27 months at Manchester Crown Court.
Passing sentence Judge Goldstone told the defendant: "I give you full credit for your plea of guilt. I accept you are genuinely and utterly remorseful for what you did or more importantly what you did not do."
He added: "The lack of urgency when dealing with the situation even allowing for resource difficulties is startling."
The court heard social services at Manchester City Council had contact with the family since shortly after Alexander's birth.
On October 4 police were called to the house after a family row and notified social services. Alexander was deemed to be at "medium risk" and at a multi-agency meeting with police on October 5, the social services department planned to put a strategy together to help the family.
A social worker visited Sutherland the same day but a further meeting with her was not planned until a month later on November 5.
There were no further home visits or monitoring of the family in the meantime.
Sutherland then also asked for the November 5 appointment to be put back a week and this this was readily agreed to by social services, the court heard.
But at around 6.55am on Tuesday November 10, Sutherland dialled 999, telling the call handler she was alone, had a dead baby at her house for the past three days as she could not let him go. An ambulance was called and arrived before police.
Paramedics found the house was unlocked and no-one was at home, but after a search they found Alexander in his pushchair by a lit gas fire. He was wearing a white baby grow, which was stained with a brown liquid. He was taken to hospital but pronounced dead at 7.15am.
Police found Sutherland walking close by and she was taken to a police station.