A 34-year-old Amman Valley mum who left her children in “horrendous conditions” while she went to work has admitted three counts of neglect.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared before Llanelli magistrates to plead guilty to neglecting each of her three children – all aged under 12 years – between December 6, 2013, and December 11.
Ellie Morgan, prosecuting, told how police officers attended the family home on December 12 after the two youngest children failed to attend school from December 5 onwards.
“It took some time for the police to get in because even though they were knocking at the door and shouting through the letterbox they failed to get any reply,” Ms Morgan told the court.
Eventually, they forced entry and found the woman and children inside.
“The conditions were filthy,” said Ms Morgan.
“The officers found it difficult to work through the property because there was rubbish everywhere and the house smelled of rotten food.”
The windows had been covered with bedsheets.
The officers found the youngest children huddled together and wrapped in a duvet on a sofa in the hallway.
A dog was shut in the family bathroom surrounded by faeces and urine.
While the officers searched the house, the woman “broke down in tears”.
In interview, the woman, who was recently widowed, told officers that the two younger children had been too unwell to attend school from December 6 onwards.
However, she had been unable to get time off to stay home because her employer operated a penalty points system where workers who amassed a certain amount were automatically fired.
“She took the decision to leave the children and went to work,” said Ms Morgan.
“She thought the elder child would be old enough to get food or go for help should anything happen.”
The court heard how she worked from 8am until 5pm on Friday, December 6, from 8am until noon on December 9, and from 8am until 6pm on December 10, without arranging supervision for the children.
“She made no arrangement because she had no one to turn to,” said Ms Morgan.
“She accepted it was inappropriate to leave the children, but she had to do it or else she would have lost her job,” said Ms Morgan. “If she lost her job she would also lose her home.
“She did not call social services because when she had asked for help before nobody ever got back to her.
“There were times when she tried to fight and change things, but she had got to the stage where she simply thought ‘what’s the point’.”
The woman, who wept throughout the hearing, had hidden from police because she feared they were debt collectors.
Richard Morgan, defending, told the court: “She found herself in an extremely difficult position.
“Her husband passed away and she was left very isolated and having to cope with three young children.
“She had no one to turn to and was under a great deal of pressure because of this very strict points system at her work. If she had taken time off she would have been fired.
“Prior to this the children regularly attended school and there was nothing to suggest there were any hygiene issues or malnutrition.
“She was trying to keep everything together for the good of her family while struggling with the loss of her partner.
“She is now working with a social worker, has cleaned up the property and has reduced her working hours.
“Her only care has always been for her children.”
Magistrates adjourned sentencing for the completion of probation reports, but told the woman she would avoid jail.
“You will be sentenced, but it will be a sentence to help,” they said
The woman will appear again before magistrates on February 7.