Wales

Sarah Morris jailed for three years after daughter drowns in bath

Sarah Morris Image copyright Andrew Price
Image caption Sarah Morris said she left her children alone for no longer than three minutes

A mother has been jailed for three years after leaving her baby girl to drown in the bath.

Sarah Morris, 35, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter of one-year-old Rosie on Wednesday.

Rosie drowned in waist-deep bath water at Morris's flat in Greenfield near Holywell, Flintshire, on 29 July 2015.

Mold Crown Court heard Morris spent 47 minutes talking to her partner while Rosie and her twin were left. alone in the bath.

The conversation only ended when Sarah Swindells suggested Morris should go and check on the children.

Morris had been given help from Flintshire council and received a leaflet detailing the dangers of leaving children unattended in the bath just two weeks before Rosie died.

She had also been in regular contact with social workers and it was their view she was "doing an OK job".

A former partner said she was in the habit of putting herself before her children and prosecutor Oliver Saxby said after the verdict there was evidence of her "drinking to excess and taking drugs".

Traces of amphetamine was found in a bag in her bedroom.

Defence barrister Patrick Harrington QC said: "The culpability of the death of your own child is massive and it's a burden she's going to have to carry for the rest of her life."

Image caption Defence barrister Patrick Harrington QC said Morris's future was "now bleak"

Morris claimed she left her children alone for no longer than "two or three" minutes, with the court hearing she had to be stopped from banging her head on a wall when she realised Rosie was dead.

The defence claimed it was a "tragic accident" for which a loving mother, doing her best, bore no criminal responsibility.

Mr Justice Picken told Morris he recognised the "profound effect" the death of her daughter had on her.

He said there was no evidence she neglected her children in the same way before but it meant the loss of "a young girl rich in promise" and left her twin brother without his sister.

The judge also said it would be wrong to bear in mind, in sentencing, issues raised after the verdict regarding her character as these had been untested during the trial.

'Bleak future'

Mr Justice Picken said he recognised she was remorseful and said Mr Harrington was "sadly right" when he described her future prospects as bleak.

Nicola Rees of the Crown Prosecution Service said Morris left her two young children "in an extremely vulnerable position for a prolonged period".

"The CPS presented evidence showing that Sarah Morris had been made aware, on a number of occasions, of the dangers involved in bathing young children, but nevertheless, on this particular day, she chose to put her own needs above those of her children, resulting in Rosie's tragic death from drowning," she added.

In a victim impact statement, Rosie's grandmother said: "On 29 July 2015, my life changed forever.

"I received the worst phone call of my life from paramedics, telling me there'd been an accident and I needed to go to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

"The image of what I saw there will be with me forever. She was lying dead in a crib in the hospital. I never thought that my beautiful granddaughter would lose her life."

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