A neglectful mother escaped jail yesterday after she admitted abandoning her four children to go to the seaside for five days.
The kids – aged between one and 10 - were left in filthy conditions and forced to fend for themselves while their 30-year-old single mother holidayed in Bournemouth.
The one-year-old baby had a full nappy and all four children were dressed in shabby clothing when police were called to the family home in London, on July 20 this year.
Yesterday, she was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison - but suspended for two years- after she admitted four counts of child neglect.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that the mother had left her children in the care of their 15-year-old cousin, with little but beer, butter and milk in the house' while she went to 'check on hotel prices'.
"A young boy opened the door to police and told them he was alone with his siblings," said prosecutor Richard Berman.
"The children were dressed in shabby, dirty clothing and were sharing ice cream out of a mug.
"The youngest child was wearing a dirty vest and had a full nappy. "The cupboards were empty apart from beer, butter and milk for the baby."
Police contacted the mother who insisted she would be back, but she failed to do so while officers were at the house, resulting in the children being taken into police protection, Mr Berman added.
The 30-year-old, who has previously received a caution for child neglect, handed herself in to police.
"Her excuse was that she went there (to Bournemouth) to check on hotel prices," Mr Berman added.
She has since been reunited with her children, although their grandmother is now their primary carer.
Sentencing, Judge Nigel Peters QC said: "In July this year you took off to Bournemouth and did not return until Tuesday.
"Your reasons and excuses for doing so seem lamentable. "How you can conceivably leave a 12-month old baby and a five-year-old with your nephew, together with a ten and eight-year-old, how that household coped until the police arrived, beggars belief.
"The position now is the children have been reunited with you and your mother is the main carer, by virtue of an agreement with the local authority.
"Nevertheless, you have access to them. It would be punishing them further if I was to deprive you of your liberty.
"This was a very grave case of neglect and one that merits a custodial sentence, that I am prepared to suspend."
Judge Peters also ordered that the woman should be supervised for 18 months and complete 20 sessions of specified activity programme.