THE parents of a young child who suffered a broken arm after falling off a sofa have been convicted of child neglect.
The couple from Ilfracombe, who cannot be named for legal reasons, narrowly avoided being sent to prison but have had their three children taken away from them.
The 31-year-old man and 27-year-old woman pleaded guilty to two charges of child neglect at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
The married couple represented themselves at court.
The charges relate to two separate incidents which occurred at the family home between September 5 and September 8 last year.
The court heard how the couple’s youngest child suffered a fractured arm after falling from the sofa while left unattended.
Simon Jarvis, for the prosecution, said: “Mum left her sat on the sofa while she went to make breakfast and said she was keeping an eye on her through the kitchen hatch.
“However, police said this was not possible after conducting a search of the place.
“The youngest child was found crying, lying face down on the floor. Mum gave her Calpol and saw her left limb wasn’t moving, but decided to keep an eye on it.”
However, the court heard how a family intervention worker attended the property the following day on a routine visit and told the mother to take the child to hospital.
On September 7, the little girl was taken to A&E at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple where scans confirmed she had a fractured humerus.
Magistrates heard how the pair had ignored several warnings by social services not to leave the children unsupervised.
The court also heard that all three children had unhealthy diets and poor hygiene.
The children were removed from the couple under emergency protection orders by social services and are now in foster care awaiting adoption.
Presiding magistrate Paul Cooper said: “Cruelty to a child even in just one instance carries 12 weeks’ imprisonment, however you’ve pleaded guilty as soon as possible.”
The couple were each given a nine-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay a £80 victim surcharge.