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Shrewsbury father who passed out in bush while in charge of toddler fails in legal appeal

By Rob Smith | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A father who was barred from contacting his five-year-old son after the frightened boy found him passed out in a bush has lost a legal appeal to remove the restraining order.

The Shrewsbury man, who is not named for legal reasons, was made subject to restraining orders for the boy and his mother earlier this year after his son found him unconscious at 2.30am on June 23.

In a hearing on Friday, a judge removed the restraining order relating to the boy's mother but warned the father that he would have to go through the family courts if he wanted to be part of his son's life again.

Representing the crown in the hearing at Shrewsbury Crown Court, Rob Edwards said that a woman heard the boy's cries for help on June 23.

The woman was at her home in Shifnal when she heard the boy crying: "Somebody help me, somebody help my daddy."

Drugs

She went outside and spoke to the man in the bush.

She intimated to him that she thought he was on drugs and he said he had taken cocaine, Mr Edwards said.

She also noticed the boy had no shoes, and asked him if he had eaten any tea. He said he hadn't but that he had eaten breakfast.

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The woman called the police, who arrested the man and took the child away, Mr Edwards said.

Officers noted that the man had dilated pupils and slurred speech, but once he had sobered up they interviewed him.

"He admitted that his actions put [the child] in danger and he was incapable of looking after him," Mr Edwards said.

"He admitted that something could have gone terribly wrong in relation to [the child] and said he had never done anything like this before.

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"He expressed deep shame and regret."

He also denied taking cocaine in his interview, Mr Edwards said.

Neglect

Police found CCTV appearing to show the man "drifting in and out of consciousness" in a Telford hotel lobby with the boy trying to get his attention.

The boy's mother was informed that night by police officers who knocked on her door.

The father later pleaded guilty at Telford Magistrates Court to wilful ill-treatment or neglect of his son likely to cause him suffering, and he was given a six month suspended sentence and two restraining orders.

He appeared at the crown court on Friday to make an appeal, and his representative Stephen Scully asked Judge Anthony Lowe to consider removing both restraining orders.

He told the judge that he "wants to re-engage at some point with his son", and wanted to apologise for his actions.

'Terrifying'

Judge Lowe, who was sitting with two justices, accepted that the magistrates in the lower court had "no legal basis" to make a restraining order for the mother, who had not suffered any harassment at the hands of the father.

He ordered that the restraining order in relation to her "must go", but that the one regarding the boy should remain in place until the issue has been pursued in the family courts.

He said: "This must have been a terrifying experience for [the boy], in the middle of the night seeing his father who he might have thought was dead.

"He must not phone the mother until there is agreement in the family courts.

"This is going to be a very, very difficult situation for the courts and the family.

"If he ever wants to have a proper relationship with his son again he will have to take things at the mother's pace."

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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