Published: 00:01, 20 June 2017
Shoppers in a Thanet store watched in horror as a mother hit a child in the face with a mobile phone after losing her temper.
Some onlookers took photographs as the cruel 31-year-old then dragged another child across the floor in Tesco Extra at Westwood Cross retail park using a belt while screaming abuse at him.
But the mother later told a judge: "I may be a bad parent, but I am no sadist."
Canterbury Crown Court heard stunned shoppers had recognised one of the child’s school uniform and alerted teachers.
The two victims were later questioned by police officers and revealed a shocking story of life with a drunken mother.
One had an arm bent back, the other was slapped and both fed burned food and had Christmas presents destroyed.
Yet when a relative of the mother alerted social services, officials told them they were being “overly protective” and nothing was done, the court was told.
Now Canterbury Crown Court has heard that since the attack, the children are now being given loving care by foster families, although doctors fear the children may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"She is a wholly inadequate parent and demonstrates an inability to deal with the responsibilities of being a single parent" - defence lawyer Simon Taylor
The Ramsgate woman, who admitted three charges of child cruelty, can’t be named and shamed because of legislation to protect the identities of the victims.
But her barrister Simon Taylor said the attacks were caused “by inadequacies rather than sadism.”
“She is a wholly inadequate parent and demonstrates an inability to deal with the complexities and responsibilities of being a single parent,” he said.
“She had no enjoyment in her life which was a sad one indeed and she spread that to her children.”
Prosecutor Jeremy Rosenberg told Judge Christopher Critchlow that the woman had been at Tesco in April last year with her children.
“Many people then heard her use abusive language towards the children and they became concerned when she became physically violent, dragging one of the children by a belt and then striking another with a mobile phone.”
He said one of eye-witnesses – who had recorded the incidents on a phone – identified one victim by his uniform and a group then went to report it to the school.
“One of the victims later told how he had been hit with a belt and had his arm bent back.
A shopping trolley had been pushed against him and the children were often fed burned food.
“The children had witnessed their mother drinking on regular occasions and were often left with bruises and cuts.
“One also reported how the mother had broke their Christmas presents in a rage,” added the prosecutor.
After being arrested the mother admitted hitting the children “out of frustration and accepted she may have done it when she had drunk too much alcohol.”
She also admitted giving her children burned food, but blamed it on “poor cooking rather than anything more sinister.”
The judge jailed her for a total of 14 months saying what she had done had caused the children psychological harm and trauma.
After the hearing, an NSPCC spokesman said: “This is a truly disturbing case and there’s no excuse for harming a child. It can cause serious and often lasting effects, both physically and mentally and undermine the trust between a child and their parent or carer.
“It is right that the defendant in this case has been held to account for her actions and we are pleased to hear that her children are now receiving the support that they need.
“Anyone who is concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children and young people can call Childline on 0800 1111 or get help online via www.childline.org.uk.”
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