Saturday 25 March 2017

Parents of hanged girl plead guilty to cruelty

Ellen Branagh

The mother and stepfather of an eight-year-old girl found hanged in her bedroom yesterday admitted child cruelty.

Charlotte Avenall, who had severe learning difficulties, was discovered hanged in her bedroom in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, on the morning of September 12 last year.

Yesterday her mother Susan Moody (24) and her 33-year-old husband Simon Moody pleaded guilty to cruelty to a person under 16. Nottingham Crown Court heard nobody had been in the eight-year-old's bedroom for four weeks, and it was found in a "foul and disgusting state" with faeces smeared across the walls and floor.

Susan and Simon Moody were interviewed under caution at the time of the girl's death at her home in Moor Street, then charged in December.

They each pleaded guilty to the charge, that between August 14 and September 12, 2009, having responsibility for Charlotte, they had wilfully neglected, abandoned or exposed her in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

Disgusting

Prosecuting, William Harbage QC said: "The evidence shows that nobody had been into Charlotte's bedroom for a period of four weeks or more and her room was in an absolutely foul and disgusting state, with faeces smeared all over the walls, the floor, bedding and soft toys."

He said Susan Moody's plea accepted she was the primary carer for her daughter, but said she had been unwell for the four-week period. "The extent of that illness may be in some dispute but she was clearly ill at that time," he said.

"What the Crown has always been saying is that each parent had a duty of care to Charlotte, each should have gone and checked that room and if they did not do it themselves they should have ensured that the other or an outside agency did it.

"The plea acknowledges that she did not ensure that her husband did so and she did not ensure that social services or any outside agencies were informed.

"She abandoned Charlotte effectively to her fate and exposed her to risks to health and caused unnecessary suffering."

Mr Harbage said Simon Moody had accepted the case as offered by the prosecution.

Judge Joan Butler QC adjourned sentencing to April 9, for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

She granted the couple bail, with the condition that they co-operate with the probation service in preparation of the reports.

Irish Independent

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