A mother who waited a day to take her seriously injured child to hospital after the toddler accidentally set light to herself= has been sentenced for neglect.
The woman from Bedford, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came downstairs to find her young daughter on fire last year.
The mother made the girl take a shower before putting her to bed, then failed to take her to hospital until after they had walked to a supermarket the following day.
The woman told nurses the injuries had been caused outside her home, when a man passing by her front garden flicked a cigarette which set light to the child’s dress.
The child later told hospital staff that she had accidentally set fire to herself while playing with a gas lighter at home.
Due to the severity of her injuries the girl was transferred to the burns unit at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, where she had five dressing changes and was put under general anaesthetic.
The burns to her torso accounted for seven per cent of the child’s entire body surface area.
While at Broomfield Hospital the mother again told doctors that the injuries had been caused by a passer-by outside her home the day she took her to hospital.
However, she later admitted that her daughter had set light to herself the previous day, adding that she lied as she did not want the child to “get into trouble”.
It was heard that the mother’s medical conditions prevented her from understanding the urgency of the incident.
Furrukh Usmani, defending, told the hearing that the mother was “petrified about the way the court will view the severity of the case”.
The mother broke down in tears as images of the burns were shown during the hearing at Luton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Mr Usmani added: “She finds it difficult to look at the pictures.
“She has really suffered as a result of this. I hope the court can look closely at why this happened and the difficulties she suffered at the time of this incident.”
Magistrates said that the child’s injuries were “the worst any of us have seen while on the bench”, adding that if the mother had not pleaded guilty she would have gone to prison that day.
The woman was handed a 26 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
She was also placed under a 12 month supervision order and will complete 60 hours of unpaid work.
Magistrates also ordered the mother to pay the £80 victim surcharge and £85 in court costs.