PARENTS

Mum Cleared Of Child Neglect After Leaving 12-Year-Old With Family Friend While She Went To Spain

12/01/2015 13:45 | Updated 20 May 2015

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A mum who left her 12-year-old son in the care of a family friend when she went on a trip to Spain has been cleared of child neglect and cruelty.

The woman, who can't be named for legal reasons, said the trauma of her court case had torn her family apart and left her battling depression.

The boy was taken away from his family and was allowed to see his mum only under supervision seven times in the 11 months before the trial. She says she was scared to reply to her son's Facebook messages in case this communication broke her bail conditions.

Now 14, he has decided to stay living with a relative 300 miles away after starting his GCSE studies and settling in to a new school.

According to the Sunday Times, the family's ordeal began two years ago when the boy decided he didn't want to go with his mum and stepdad on a trip to sort out some issues with a holiday home they own in Andalucia.

Instead they arranged for the 'independent, intelligent young man' to be cared for by a 'long-standing family friend'.

However, the couple discovered that the boy had spent two nights alone, while he had told his teachers that he didn't know who was meant to be looking after him.

While they were away, the couple, one a teacher, the other a former social worker, received a phone call from police saying they would be questioned under caution over child neglect on their return.

The parents immediately came home but they were arrested and the boy was sent to live with a relative by the authorities.

When the case was finally heard at Carlisle Crown Court, Judge Paul Batty directed the jury to return not-guilty verdicts.

He said the man tasked with looking after the boy had given inconsistent evidence and that in other circumstances there was no suggestion the couple had been anything other than excellent parents.

The mother told The Sunday Times: "I will have to live the rest of my life with this. There's depression. It was so unnecessary and cruel ... One of the hardest things is seeing the children getting off the school bus every afternoon and my son not being among them."

The boy is still in regular contact with his mother by phone and email but sees her only in the school holidays.

The Department for Education said: "The law is clear that parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health."

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