Trio escape jail after boy drowns in garden pond
PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 July 2011 | UPDATED: 08:40 30 July 2011
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CRYING in the kitchen next to a flaming oven, kept in dirty clothes and eventually dead after drowning in a garden pond.
Toddler Daniel Rees-Smith suffered months of neglect at the hands of his parents before he died tragically in his grandmother’s pond.
The two-year-old had been left in the alcoholic’s care while his parents Andrew Marshall, from Wrington, and Charlotte Rees-Smith, from Bristol, went to the pub for a night of drinking.
But grandmother Hilary Rees passed out on the sofa after a cocktail of cider and anti-depressants and Daniel was left to walk to his death in the garden pond.
Parents Marshall, aged 22, and Rees-Smith, aged 20, both admitted neglecting Daniel during a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on July 21.
But the pair, along with Hilary Rees, escaped jail sentences after His Honour Judge Maddison considered losing the boy had already left them with a ‘heavy burden’ to carry.
The court heard how Marshall, of The Glebe, and Rees-Smith, from St Georges in Bristol, had been in an on-off relationship since the birth of Daniel in 2008.
The pair would seek help babysitting from Rees, aged 44, of Hanham in Bristol, up to four times a week.
This was despite her being an alcoholic and her house being littered with cat and dog faeces, foul smelling and infested with flies.
The court heard how she was often found unconscious and when woken would often become aggressive and confrontational.
Her lodger, Ashley Smith, described how he found Daniel crying on one occasion next to a hot oven while Rees was asleep on the sofa.
Witnesses also described the child as sometimes being unkempt and in the same dirty clothes.
Then, on the evening of June 4, last year Marshall and Rees-Smith went to the Cross Keys pub and left Daniel with Rees.
She had drunk at least three pints of cider, mixed with anti-depressants, and had fallen asleep on the sofa.
When Rees-Smith and Marshall returned to her home at 10.30pm, there was no sign of Daniel.
After a search, Marshall discovered him dead, face down in Rees’ garden pond.
All three were arrested and charged with manslaughter and child neglect.
The manslaughter charges were dropped after a court hearing last week. Rees and Rees-Smith admitted child neglect between April 2009 and June 2010.
Rees was handed a 12-month jail term suspended for two years and a two-year supervision order.
Rees-Smith was given 32 weeks in prison suspended for two years and two years supervision.
Marshall admitted the same offence relating to the night of his son’s death. He was sentenced to 18 weeks suspended for two years and two years supervision.