24/11/2014 13:07 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Couple's Fight To Keep Their Children After Dad Left Toddler In Car For 10 Minutes

Adrian Sherratt

Tim and Julie with two of their children - Iset and Kiya

Social services threatened to take a couple's five children into care after the dad left his two-year-old daughter alone in his car for 10 minutes while he popped into a shop to buy Calpol.

Tim Haines, a 50-year-old family law advocate, was arrested and prosecuted for 'wilful exposure of a child to risk of significant harm' and faced a year-long battle to stop he and his wife Julie's kids being taken into care.

Julie, 50, a teacher, said: "We won, but we came within a hair's breadth of losing our children."

Their ordeal began in 2004 when Tim parked on Evesham High Street in Worcestershire and dashed into a pharmacy, leaving his daughter Iset in the car.

When he returned less than 10 minutes later, Iset was happily standing up on the driver's seat, but two policeman were waiting by the car to confront him.

Tim told The Sunday Times: "They gave me all sorts of grief about leaving my daughter alone in the car, said I had bald tyres and refused to let me drive it, so I walked home with Iset in my arms.

"I thought that was the end of it, but a few weeks later there was a knock at the door and there were two policemen there to arrest me."

The Haines's children were placed on the child protection register and the couple spent a 'nightmare year' fighting to clear Tim's name and keep their children.

They succeeded in getting his conviction overturned on appeal and in the summer of 2005 – almost a year after the incident – their children's names were finally removed from the child protection register.

Julie said: "I was sick with anxiety the entire time the children's names were on the register.

"Social services sent us five care plans for each of our kids. I ripped them up and pushed them back under the social services office door.

"We wrote our own plans and submitted them to the family courts. They weren't used to dealing with articulate middle-class people."

Two of the couple's children are now at university and three remain at school.

The family decided to speak out following the case of a mother in the West Midlands who was given a caution for leaving her six-year-old son home alone for 45 minutes.

Currently the law states only that parents should not leave children alone if they will be placed at risk.

The government is facing pressure to pass legislation that will make clear at what age and for how long children can be left unattended.

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