Drunken mum set microwave alight with young daughter in house

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A terrified, naked little girl, choking on black, acrid smoke, fought to open an upstairs window at midnight, after her drunken Pendle mother set the microwave alight and then "crashed out" a court heard.

The six-year-old was seen standing on the window sill by a neighbour, who dashed to the house, wrapped her in a blanket and took her to safety.

The 29-year-old mother, who was oblivious to what was happening - and to her child's suffering - just wanted to go back to sleep, but was also led from the property. The pair were taken to hospital because of smoke inhalation, Burnley magistrates were told.

The bench was told how it was not the first time the mother had started a fire at their home. She had done a similar thing just over a year before after an earlier "binge -drinking" session.

On that occasion the little girl had phoned 999, saying she was unable to wake her mother and emergency services had found the property full of smoke. A breath-test showed the mother had 133 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. She was later given a suspended jail term.

The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has now admitted child neglect after the latest incident in July, will be sentenced next month and could be facing prison.

Prosecutor Mrs Alex Mann told the court the neighbour probably saved the defendant's life, as well as her daughter's. At around midnight the neighbour was awoken by knocking and then heard a fire or smoke alarm.

She saw the house across the road was full of thick, dark smoke and the six-year-old standing on the window sill in the front upstairs bedroom.

Mrs Mann added: "The neighbour says she looked very frightened. She was trying to open the window, but couldn't reach. She was completely naked. The neighbour got dressed and ran across the road."

The prosecutor said the neighbour told police the defendant was quite clearly not capable of looking after herself, never mind her daughter. As the child was only wrapped in a blanket, the neighbour took her to her house. The child was coughing, upset for her mother and got anxious when the emergency services came.

Mrs Mann said: "The mother was brought into the ambulance and still seemed oblivious to what had happened, unconcerned about her daughter and didn't know what was going on."

Mr Keith Rennison (defending) said the child was now living with a relative. The defendant was in regular contact with her daughter and was working with the social services with a view to getting her back.