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Three-year-old allowed to smoke by mum PDF Print E-mail
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Written by WalesOnline   

A three-year-old boy lit a cigarette butt and smoked it in front of his mother, a court heard today.

The incident was filmed on a mobile telephone and passed to social services by a concerned friend of the boy’s mother, 24-year-old Kelly Marie Pocock.

Pocock, a mother-of-three from Sarah Street, Merthyr Vale, south Wales, appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of cruelty to a child under 16 at a hearing last month.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees told Merthyr Crown Court: “The video demonstrates the boy placing a cigarette into his mouth, lighting it with a lighter and sucking, drawing smoke clearly into the lungs and he seems to do it with some accomplishment.

“It doesn’t cause him any discomfort. He is sat on a chair close to the mother, who is talking on the phone.

“It is clear that the boy, at the age of three, knows what to do with a lighter and cigarette.”

Mr Rees said Natasha Dudley, a friend of Pocock, filmed the events after visiting her home just after Christmas 2007.

The prosecutor said Miss Dudley had gone looking for the boy after he had been missing for half an hour.

“She found him underneath the bed with some cigarettes,” said Mr Rees. “He was actually smoking one at the time and Miss Dudley said it looked like he had been smoking for many years.”

The court heard that when the boy was taken downstairs he went into the living room where he picked up a cigarette butt from an ashtray and smoked it.

Mr Rees said at this point, Pocock was having a telephone conversation so Miss Dudley decided to film the boy, such was her concern.

The video was forwarded to social services who then referred the matter to the police. In interview, Pocock told officers that she did not appreciate the fact that her son was smoking as she was on the telephone.

She also told officers that she was “shocked” when the matter was drawn to her attention.

After being charged, Pocock entered a guilty plea on the basis that she had not seen her son smoking before and had not been told of the incident underneath the bed by Miss Dudley.

Claire Wilks, defending, asked Judge John Curran to bear in mind the early guilty plea by her client.

“Fortunately time has now passed and in that time the defendant has been able to prove herself both to her children and, perhaps more importantly, their social worker,” said Ms Wilks.

The court heard she had attended six parenting courses since the incident.

Ms Wilks added: “One of the changes has been her maturing and putting the children before herself.”

Judge Curran said the case was one of the most “extraordinary” he had ever come across.

The judge said the boy would not have been able to smoke without discomfort “unless he had acquired a habit”.

“This is an appalling situation and I don’t see how, despite your basis of plea, you could have been unaware of the fact,” said Judge Curran.

The judge added that while the offence would normally cross the custody threshold, he did not want to cause her children any further emotional harm by separating them from their mother.

He said he also acknowledged the “considerable efforts” Pocock had taken to improve the situation.

Judge Curran sentenced her to 40 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years. He also imposed a 12 month supervision requirement as part of the sentence.

After leaving the dock, a tearful Pocock embraced her social worker and said: “Thank you.”


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