A mother left her two young children home alone with a 10-year-old babysitter and went out clubbing.
The children, aged just five months and three years old, were abandoned to a schoolgirl who believed she was going to the house for a sleepover.
Minutes after the 10-year-old, a family friend, was dropped off by her dad, the mother changed into a sequinned mini-skirt and silver top, claiming she was going shopping.
Sunderland Magistrates' Court yesterday heard that the girls were locked in the house at Hylton Castle, Tyne and Wear.
The only food available was milk for the baby and bread and butter, which was five months out of date.
The two-year-old fell asleep, but woke up at around 4am and became frightened.
It was at this point that the 10-year-old dressed the two young children, helped them climb out of a downstairs window with a pushchair and began the four-mile walk to her home in Hendon.
Luckily the trio were spotted by a concerned passer-by who took them to her nearby home and called the police.
None of the children or the defendant can be named for legal reasons.
The court also heard how the mother, in her 20s, initially denied leaving the three children in August last year.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: 'She was interviewed by police and denied abandoning the children overnight, claiming she had left them for a very short period to go to the shops. She claimed she saw a motor vehicle driving away with the children inside. She believed this was her partner's family. She believed her partner's family had been watching her and took the children.'
But the defendant later admitted what she had done and pleaded guilty to one charge of neglect.
Defending, Jason Smith said: 'She fully accepts her responsibility for her actions that night. She made the decision, albeit the wrong decision. She accepts wholeheartedly that it was the wrong decision, because it has caused the lives of her children to be turned upside down.'
Mr Smith added that the two younger children were now being looked after by her partner's family and she saw them three times a week.
'The whole incident is exceptionally sad and quite frankly horrific as to what the possible outcomes could have been. What has occurred as a result of this is a terrible lesson, a lesson that she will learn from every day,' he added.
Magistrates adjourned the case until January so reports could be carried out, warning the defendant she could face six months in jail.