A NINE-YEAR OLD girl was forced to stay home alone in a house with no electricity or heat for days while her mother went to stay with her new boyfriend.
A court heard the youngster was left alone for nearly a week without enough food during her six-day ordeal.
The girl was also ordered not to go to school and was forbidden from answering the door or telephone in a bid to hide the fact that she was alone.
Leeds Crown Court heard the mum, who cannot be named, only left the youngster with enough microwave meals to last three days.
The mum, aged in her 20s, decided to extended her stay with her new partner in Manchester but failed to tell her daughter in May last year.
The court heard the girl felt distraught when her mother did not return home on time and feared she had been abandoned forever.
Robert Young, prosecuting, said the girl had been ordered to stay in and listen to music and play video games at their home in the Osmondthorpe area of east Leeds.
But after three days the gas and electricity was cut off. She was also left without enough food and had to live on fruit, crackers and cereal.
Mr Young said: “When the defendant returned to the property some six days later she then told the child: ‘Don’t you dare tell anyone. If you do, you know what will happen.”
The court heard the offences came to light due to combination of the child’s school and her grandmother ‘liaising’ with each other.
The mother pleaded guilty to one offence of child cruelty.
The court heard the child was now living with her grandmother but did have some contact with her mother.
A report described how it was still in the youngster’s best interests for the child to maintain a relationship with her mother despite the offence.
Gareth Moore, representing the woman, said: “I do not seek to put forward any mitigating features. The defendant recognises that there simply are none.”
Judge Penelope Belcher gave the woman a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. She was also made the subject of a high level intensity ordered designed to address her offending.
The judge said: “You put above the interests of a child, your own interests. On you return she expressed her fear to you that you were never coming back.
“This child must have been terrified in that house.
“She complied with your instructions because as her mother she trusted you - she loved you.
“It is clear that the child loved you. Social services are concerned that the relationship - and her right to a relationship with you - is important and is in her interests.”
The judge added: “Because of her situation I am not going to send you immediately to custody. But it is because of her. Not because of you.”