Lauren Wade, who was two years and five months old, died from complications arising from malnutrition in March 2015
The parents of a malnourished toddler who died after she was left starving for months and riddled with thousands of head lice, have been jailed.
Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, have today been jailed over the death of Lauren Wade, who was left to starve at their filthy flat in Glasgow’s Sighthill.
Lauren, who was just two years and five months old, died from complications arising from malnutrition in March 2015.
Medical staff found she was emaciated and infested with head lice when she was brought into hospital after being found unresponsive at her home.
She was pronounced dead around 30 minutes later.
The ‘skinny and dirty’ toddler had a sodden nappy, bald patches and thousands of head lice, the High Court in Glasgow heard today.
There was evidence that lice had been there for ‘over 17 months’ of her life.
Paramedics told the court that the cover Lauren had been lying on was covered in lice and fleas and they had to clean and decontaminate the ambulance.
A police officer who visited the flat where the family lived described it as ‘one of the most disgusting houses he had ever seen in his career’.
The court heard it was littered with rubbish, leftover food, dirty plates and clothes and infected with hundreds of insects and flies.
Wade, who was Lauren’s biological mother, told police she had ‘no guilt’ over her daughter’s death.
Wade (left) and Sweeney (right) admitted wilfully ill-treating and neglecting the child last month, and also pleaded guilty to similar charges in respect of two older children
Wade and Sweeney admitted wilfully ill-treating and neglecting the child last month, and also pleaded guilty to similar charges in respect of two older children.
They were each jailed for six years and four months at the High Court in Glasgow today.
Judge Lady Stacey told them the youngsters had been subjected to a ‘chaotic’ lifestyle and ‘were entitled to a better home life than they had.’
The judge added: ‘When your youngest daughter died, your house was in a shocking state. You knew the children were dependent on you. You failed in your duties to these children.’
Wade and Sweeney, who had been in a relationship for 15 years, both regarded themselves as mothers to Lauren.
On March 20, 2015, a 999 call was made after Lauren was found ‘unresponsive’.
Wade told nurses Lauren had been suffering from a virus for a couple of days but a post-mortem revealed the toddler was too small for her age and had been the victim of ‘severe neglect’.
In court it emerged the women had been told to clean up their living conditions as long ago as 2007.
But by 2014, when a school nurse made an unannounced visit following concerns raised by the school, it was ‘in a state of disarray.’
Sweeney and Wade declined her offers to help with the children’s’ head lice infestation.
The children had tooth decay and head lice and the older girls were not given adequate clothing, the court heard.
Margaret Wade, 38 (left), and Marie Sweeney, 37 (right) outside the High Court in Glasgow, where they were each sentenced to six years in prison
Prosecutor Bill McVicar said: ‘The kitchen was so full of bags of rubbish that there was barely enough space to open the door.
‘There were numerous empty Pot Noodle cartons all with flies. Pot Noodle appeared to be the staple family diet.’
One bedroom was so cluttered that the carpet was ‘almost invisible’.
Mr McVicar added: ‘It is clear the failure to provide proper accommodation was a long-standing issue which did not simply emerge in the days or weeks before the death of Lauren.
‘Margaret Wade accepted no responsibility for her failings in basic parenting. She said she had no guilt over Lauren’s death.’
Wade’s QC Brian McConnachie today claimed her mental health issues were ‘partially responsible’ for the crimes.
Sweeney’s QC Ian Duguid said she had not been ‘trying to hide’ what was a ‘very sick or malnourished child’.
He added: ‘She accepts that she has let down the children badly – one with very catastrophic consequences.’
Lady Stacey imposed three year jail terms for the neglect of the other children, but these will run concurrently to the sentence involving Lauren.
The judge said the jail term would have been seven years, had the pair not entered guilty pleas. The pair showed no emotion as they were lead to the cells.
‘Matt Forde, NSPCC Scotland head of service said: ‘The details of Lauren’s death represent one of the most appalling examples of neglect that is possible to imagine. It is incomprehensible how two people who were meant to look after a child in their care could subject her to such appalling harm.’