Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Negligent mom gets house arrest for abandoning children

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A Winnipeg mom who abandoned her two young kids to toast her birthday at a hotel bar won't see the inside of a real jail cell.

The mother, 22, learned today she would be allowed to serve a year-long period of house arrest with probation to follow after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal child-abandonment.

On Nov. 22, 2012, the woman elected to leave her children, aged 2 and 4, shut in separate rooms of her filthy apartment in order to go drinking at the Marion Hotel bar. One of the kids is disabled.

The mother had other options and could have reached out to community supports for help, provincial court Judge Tracey Lord said. "Instead, she made decisions designed to ensure that she had a good time on her birthday at the expense of her children," Lord said.

Police were tipped off the kids had been left alone and arrived to find them in "a very disturbing state" suggestive of all-around inappropriate care, Lord said. They were naked and crying, had feces on them along with rashes and bites, she said.

The mom, learning her children had been apprehended by Child and Family Services, elected to return to the bar. "She acknowledges that she made a foolish and selfish decision," said Lord.

The Crown sought six months in real jail for the woman, but Lord found she doesn't pose a public risk, has complied fully with demands placed on her though the bail and CFS systems and is making honest efforts to reclaim her kids.

"She has a clear, positive motivation to never repeat a situation like this," said Lord.

Lord still chided her for her "selfish and frivolous" actions. The impact of her behaviour on the kids, because of their youth, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the situation would have frightened them, Lord found.

"No child should have to bear that sense of fear and panic — particularly as a result of actions taken by their parent, the person who is supposed to protect and nurture them," Lord said.

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