A THREE-year-old was found wandering the streets with a soiled nappy and covered in dirt after being left home alone while her mum went to work.
The little girl unlocked the door with a spare key and walked to a shop dressed in her pyjamas.
Her teenage mother – who can’t be named for legal reasons – thought it was safe to lock the girl in the flat after her child carer failed to turn up.
But by the time she returned from work five hours later and called police, her daughter had been found and checked over by doctors at hospital.
The mum appeared for sentence at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to child neglect and was handed a Community Payback Order under which she will be supervised by social workers for 12 months.
Lindsey Armstrong, prosecuting, told the court that a member of the public spotted the youngster wandering alone in a Whitburn street at around 2pm on Monday, July 22.
She said: “The child was alone at that time wearing her pyjamas. She couldn’t provide her name or details of her home address. Police attended and the child appeared to be happy enough.
“A crowd had gathered but nobody recognised the girl and it was confirmed that no-one had come looking for her.”
Miss Armstrong said the youngster’s general appearance was unclean.
“Her face and body were covered in dirt, her hands and feet were extremely dirty and she’d soiled her nappy some time previously.”
Police took the girl to Whitburn Health Centre, where a nurse washed her and threw her filthy dummy in the bin.
She was then taken to St John’s hospital in Livingston for a medical examination but no concerns were identified.
Just after 5.30pm that day, the accused phoned the police to report that her daughter had gone missing from her home. At first she claimed that she had fallen asleep on the sofa before the girl left, but she later confessed to being at work.
When interviewed, she admitted that she’d left her daughter in the house because she “had to work” and couldn’t find a child carer.
Iain Smith, defending, said his client had struggled to cope with depression and had stopped taking her medication two weeks earlier after discovering she was pregnant.
Sheriff Donald Ferguson told the woman: “This is a serious matter and it could have ended up an absolute tragedy.
“This is a terrible thing that happened and I do know you’ve suffered since then. It’s nevertheless a very serious criminal offence.
“You have to work very hard to demonstrate that you can be trusted with your child again.”