Jailed: Parents who waited two days to take scalded child to hospital

A Watton couple have been jailed for waiting two days to seek medical help after their 11-month-old baby was scalded with boiling water.

The child suffered burns to nearly one third of its body after pulling a jug of freshly-boiled water over itself and was 'in shutdown' when finally taken to hospital.

The youngster was resuscitated by doctors before being transferred to a specialist burns unit in Chelmsford, to undergo emergency skin grafts.

Parents Tracey Parling and James Bunnett, of Nicosia Court, were yesterday jailed for 20 months, after pleading guilty to neglect at Norwich Crown Court.

Prosecutor Guy Ayers said the water had caused large areas of 'full thickness' burns, including to the face, neck and thighs.

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The child will have to wear pressure bandages 23 hours a day for up to 18 months, and will suffer permanent scarring to the body and face.

Sparling, 35, told police that she had been warming a baby bottle of milk in a pan of freshly-boiled water on March 31 when she left the room.

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She returned shortly after to find the baby had pulled the container over, dousing itself in scalding water.

Bunnett, 34, was asleep.

The pair decided against taking their baby to hospital for fear of involving social services, who had already placed the couple's two children on their at-risk register, and instead bathed the child in cold water and wrapped it in wet clothes.

The youngster's deteriorating condition finally forced them attend A&E at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on April 2.

Judge Peter de Mille told Bunnett and Parling the child's age meant it was 'particularly vulnerable' and had depended on them for care.

'You failed,' he said.

'The child's body was shutting down and, in effect, its life was being endangered.'

Ross Burrows, mitigating, said Bunnett and Parling had not rushed to hospital because the child had been conscious and alert after the accident.

He admitted their care 'fell well short' but stressed the neglect charge came from the delay in going to hospital, not the original injuries.

He said the two were 'loving and caring' but 'they lack the domestic skills that ordinary families have.'

Mr Burrows said: 'There is remorse, and there is a distinct understanding that this is going to affect their young child for the rest of its life.'

Investigating officer DC Steve Graves said afterwards he was pleased with the sentence but there had been 'no winners'.

'That poor child is going to be scarred for life,' he said.

The child, now 18 months old, was 'flourishing' in a foster family and would be placed with an adoptive family, he added.

'The main thing is that the child will now grow up well and safe.

'We will see whether the parents have learned anything when they come out and get on with the rest of their lives.'

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