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Parents jailed over death of malnourished two-year-old girl

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The parents of a two-year-old girl who died of malnourishment have been jailed after admitting to wilfully ill-treating and neglecting her.

Lauren Wade was extremely thin and infested with head lice when she was brought into hospital in March 2015 after being found unresponsive on a couch at her home in Glasgow. She died hours later.

Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, have each been sentenced to six years and four months in prison – and also admitted similar charges relating to two older children.

Sentencing the pair at the High Court in Glasgow, Lady Stacey said: “You have pled guilty to three very serious charges. These charges relate to three separate children but as would be expected, these charges overlap and the charges seem to refer to the same basic ill-treatment and neglect which exposed each of the children to the likelihood of suffering and injury to health and led ultimately to the death of your daughter.

“She had been provided with inadequate diet as a result of which she was malnourished.

“Complications arising from that malnutrition caused the child to die at a very young age.”

Wade – Lauren’s birth mother – and Sweeney admitted failing to provide adequate nutrition and fluids and failing to bathe the girl and maintain her personal hygiene.

The court heard how Lauren was “dirty and smelly” when she arrived at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Yorkhill and that there were thousands of head lice found on her hair and body.

Authorities who visited the family’s home found decomposing food, flies and insects – and said the kitchen was inaccessible because of bin bags piled up inside.

Brian McConnachie QC, defending Wade, said she had mental health problems that affected her ability to care for the children.

He added: “Ms Wade accepts full responsibility for the manner in which the various children and Lauren in particular were neglected over the period referred to.

“My submission is that her mental health difficulties at the time were partially responsible for the manner in which these offences took place.

“She appears to have got to the stage where not only was she ignoring her own health but also the health of the children.”

Representing Sweeney, Ian Duguid QC said she felt “extraordinarily sad” about the children’s neglect. He said the older children went to school and dance classes and there was a “extraordinary contrast” between their home life and their life outside.

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