Mother and her partner admit starving two-year-old girl to deathDecember 20, 2018
Mother and her partner admit starving two-year-old girl to death in their filthy insect-infested flat
- Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, left Lauren Wade without food
- Two-year-old Lauren was dirty, severely underweight and riddled with head lice
- She died in March 2015 just 30 minutes after she was taken to hospital
A mother and her partner have admitted starving a two-year-old toddler to death at a filthy flat in Scotland.
Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, left Lauren Wade without proper food or care for months before the youngster died in hospital in March 2015.
A court heard how Lauren was dirty, severely underweight and riddled with head lice in a flat described by one detective as the worst he had ever seen.
Wade and Sweeney, of Townhead in Glasgow, were remanded in custody today pending sentencing in the New Year.
Margaret Wade (left), 38, and Marie Sweeney (right), 37, left Lauren Wade without proper food or care for months before the youngster died in hospital in March 2015
The court heard the pair had been a couple for more than 15 years and both regarded themselves as Lauren’s parents.
Prosecutor Bill McVicar said the case involved ‘the same basic ill treatment and neglect’ of Lauren and two other children, who survived.
This included not keeping the youngsters clean as well as not providing proper food, clothes and medical care.
Mr McVicar said: ‘The most significant effect of the failure to provide a proper diet is the malnutrition of Lauren which caused complications leading to her death.’
The court heard Lauren was ‘plainly unwell’ and ’emaciated’ for days before she died.
A week before the death, Wade claimed to a neighbour Lauren had been ‘screaming all night’ due to ‘teething’, although in fact she had a full set of teeth by that stage.
Days later, Wade then insisted a ‘pale and tired’ Lauren had a cold.
She was rushed to hospital after she was found ‘unresponsive’ on March 20, 2015, but was pronounced dead just 30 minutes later.
Tiny Lauren was described as ‘skinny, dirty and unkempt’ at the time, and also had a sodden nappy, bald patches and ‘thousands’ of head lice.
Mr McVicar said: ‘Paramedics later noticed that the cover she had been lying on was covered in lice and fleas. They had to clean and decontaminate the ambulance.’
Wade told nurses Lauren had been suffering from a virus for a couple of days.
Mr McVicar said: ‘She kept her hood up to disguise her own infestation of head lice. She appeared dirty and smelled of body odour.’
A post mortem revealed Lauren had been the victim of ‘severe neglect’.
There was also evidence that lice had been there for ‘over 17 months’ of her life.
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The jobless duo were later charged by police – after Wade said she had ‘no guilt’ over the death – and the pair today faced a culpable homicide allegation at the High Court in Glasgow.
But prosecutors accepted their guilty pleas to an amended charge of the wilful ill-treatment and neglect of Lauren.
They also admitted to the same crime in connection with the other two children.
Police probed the horrific living conditions Lauren and the other children had been subjected to.
One detective who later viewed the Foutainwell Drive flat branded it ‘one of the most disgusting houses’ he had visited in his police career.
Mr McVicar: ‘It was neither a suitable nor safe environment for children.’
The court heard it was littered with rubbish, leftover food, dirty plates and clothes. There were also ‘hundreds’ of insects and flies due to the stinking mess.
Mr McVicar: ‘The kitchen was so full of bags of rubbish that there was barely enough space to open the door.
‘There were numerous empty Pot Noodle cartons all with flies. Pot Noodle appeared to be the staple family diet.’
Some of the rubbish found in 2015 dated back to two years earlier. In one bedroom, the clutter was so bad that the carpet was ‘almost invisible’.
Mr McVicar said: ‘It is clear the failure to provide proper accommodation was a long-standing issue which did not simply emerge in the days or weeks before the death of Lauren.’
One visitor had found the house ‘so dirty’ she refused to stay.
It emerged that earlier – in June 2014 – a school nurse made an unprompted visit amid concerns.
Information was then passed onto social workers. A health visitor went on to discover the flat ‘messy’ including cigarette butts on the floor.
A court heard how Lauren (pictured) was dirty, severely underweight and riddled with head lice in a flat described by one detective as the worst he had ever seen
A further visit was then planned – it was during this that the home was found to be clean and ‘unrecognisable’.
But Mr McVicar explained: ‘Since that visit the conditions deteriorated again…causing all three children to live again in an unsafe and unhygenic environment.
‘This exposed them to the risk of infection and un-necessary suffering – in the case of Lauren may have played a part in her death.’
The court heard Lauren died due to ‘complications with malnutrition’.
Mr McVicar said: ‘Margaret Wade accepted no responsibility for her failings in basic parenting. She said she had no guilt over Lauren’s death.’
Sweeney meantime accepted she should have been ‘more forceful’ regarding the state of the house.
Their lawyers today asked for their bail to be continued.
Sweeney’s QC Ian Duguid said: ‘Thankfully a death of this type is a rarity in this country in the 21st century.’
But Lady Stacey locked them up as sentencing was deferred for reports.
The judge said: ‘You have pled guilty to very serious charges. I am not prepared to allow bail to be continued.’
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