Woman, 30, left four-year-old child home alone in unlocked flat for up to NINE hours while on drinking binge with friend, court hears


A woman abandoned a child in her care in her unlocked flat for up to nine hours while on a drinking binge at her friend’s flat, a court has heard.

Natalie Bell, 30, was responsible for a four-year-old child in January when she left her alone at her home in Shaw, Greater Manchester, to go drinking.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard Bell was found asleep in a drunken stupor at Colette Smith’s flat in Oldham by police and firefighters.

Emergency services had received a report of a leak in the flat below, only to discover Bell had left the kitchen sink running – causing water to go through the floor.

After Bell was woken up, she became aggressive and was arrested. Police later found the child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in Bell’s property unharmed, but noticed the door had been unlocked the whole time.

Bell appeared in court after admitting child neglect. She was ordered by a judge to complete a 18-month community order, 100 hours unpaid work and a nine-month alcohol treatment programme.


Prosecuting, Lisa Boocock said CCTV showed that Bell left her flat in Shaw at 10pm on January 29 last year to see Smith, 33, in Oldham.

Between 10pm and 7am, the lawyer told the court, ‘the defendant was absent from the child during that time and the front door to her own flat was unlocked’.

‘There are very brief periods when the defendant goes back to her flat but she sometimes just goes to the door for very short periods of time,’ Ms Boocock said.

‘The tap in the other flat had been left running but the two women were extremely intoxicated and fell asleep on a bed.

The water had soaked through the ceiling and was leaking through to the flats below. The fire services went in and found the two intoxicated women.

‘They originally thought they were dead as they were out cold. When roused Miss Smith was calm throughout but this defendant reacted differently.

‘She was aggressive towards the emergency service workers and shouted at them and was abusive for a considerable period of time.

‘She struggled with police officers and had to be handcuffed.


Both women were arrested. The defendant accepted what she had done – that she had left the child and then become intoxicated.

‘Both of them were seeking to blame the other for starting this.’

Bell had no previous convictions. Her lawyer Ian Ridgeway said: ‘Drinking is the problem, and she is easily led. She has moved from Oldham to Bolton and since moving to that location, she is away from the people who are influencing her.’

Sentencing, Judge Maurice Greene told Bell: ‘It seems when you are in the company of certain people, you drink to excess and that is what happened in this particular incident.

‘This child was left alone for nine hours and the child could have got out as the door was unlocked. You weren’t there to protect the child whom it was your job to protect.

‘It was your responsibility, and you failed in that responsibility.’

Smith, of Oldham, was convicted of neglect at an earlier hearing. She was ordered to complete a 18 month community order, 120 hours of unpaid work and pay a £90 victim surcharge.


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