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Mother Who Left Child In Car While Gambling Avoids Jail Sentence

23 November 2004

NEW ZEALAND -- As reported by (New Zealand) Press: "Two North Canterbury women who left a six-year-old girl in a car while they gambled and drank in the Christchurch Casino have avoided a jail term.

"The girl had been left asleep in the casino carpark shortly before midnight on October 2 by her mother and another woman, Marama Jan Edwards, 42, but woke up shortly before 2am and became extremely distressed.

"Her plight was noticed by a passerby, who alerted casino management and then the police, who found the two women still drinking and gambling upstairs.

"Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber said the community viewed the issue of child neglect seriously, as shown by the maximum penalty of six months jail.

"However, he said he was able to step back from jail after hearing that the mother had no previous convictions and was an otherwise loving and competent parent who had fallen under the influence of Edwards, an alcoholic gambling addict.

"'This sort of case always causes concern, but it's not a case of persistent or continual ill-treatment of a child,' the judge said. 'I'm not going to jail these women, but Edwards will go to jail if she ever does this again.'..."

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