Couple escape jail after being caught drunk in charge of their baby

A couple took their baby when they went on a five-hour boozing session and fed the infant Wotsits as they got drunk, a court heard.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 10:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 10:28 am
Burnley Magistrates' Court

The parents, Siobhan Blackhurst (29) and Damon Gilbert (31) were still feeling the effects of a heavy party at their home the night before, when they went to a pub for what Gilbert described as "hair of the dog."

Burnley magistrates were told how Gilbert pushed the 16-month-old child home in a pram after the afternoon in a beer garden, but was so intoxicated he was staggering and could barely open his eyes.

The youngster, who almost fell out of the pushchair, was filthy, hadn't had a nappy change and was taken off Gilbert by neighbours, who cleaned the infant up and called the police.

Police found Blackhurst at the pub two hours after he had left. The pair's house in nearby Colne reeked of alcohol and was littered with bottles.

Gilbert said he had downed lager and Sambuca the night before and told a probation officer he had still been a bit drunk from the party.

Blackhurst told a probation officer the child had been properly looked after throughout the day, and put the tot's state down to the fact the infant had been eating Wotsits and was covered in them.

The couple, who are both on benefits and have alcohol problems, were spared jail after the Bench said they needed support. Gilbert and Blackhurst were said to have stopped drinking since the incident and had referred themselves for treatment.

Mrs Philippa White (prosecuting) told the hearing the defendants were pushing the child past the Market Tavern, on Market Street, Colne, at around 11am, when the landlady was opening up the premises. She heard Gilbert say: "Should we go in here for one?"

The prosecutor said: "They went in the premises and remained there the rest of the afternoon, until around 4pm. They were drinking most of that time in the beer garden. The child was with them at all times."

Mrs White said about 4pm, the landlady was concerned about how drunk Gilbert was and suggested it might be time he went home. He left in a "highly intoxicated" state with the child in a pram. Blackhurst stayed at the pub.

The defendant was later arrested at his home and was unaware where the child was. A police officer went to the Market Tavern at nearly 6pm and Blackhurst was in the beer garden.

A probation officer who interviewed Gilbert, told the court: "He is very thankful to his friend for taking the child off him. This has been a very, very big wake-up call for him, regarding his level of alcohol use."

An officer who interviewed Blackhurst said the defendant had a lot to drink the night before, got up and carried on. The officer added: "She has had ongoing issues with alcohol for many years. She is diagnosed with depression."

The defendants, of Walton Street, Colne, admitted being drunk in charge of a child on June 21st.

They were each given a 12-month community order, with a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 50 hours unpaid work. They must pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.