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Parents jailed after two-year-old starved to death

Margaret Wade and Marie Sweeney jailed for more than six years each for the neglect of Lauren Wade.

Lauren Wade: She was dirty and severely underweight.
Lauren Wade: She was dirty and severely underweight.

The parents of a toddler who was starved to death have been jailed for a total of 13 years.

Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, looked after Lauren Wade in a filthy flat in Glasgow described by one detective as one of the worst he had ever seen.

The pair, of Townhead, were each jailed for six years and four months for deliberately neglecting Lauren between June 2014 and March 2015.

The two-year-old went without proper food or care for months. She was rushed to hospital in March 2015, but died around 30 minutes later.

Death: Lauren went without proper food or care.
Death: Lauren went without proper food or care.

Lauren was dirty, severely underweight and riddled with "thousands" of head lice at the time. Two older children who lived in the flat also suffered but survived.

Wade and Sweeney were charged by police after Wade said she had "no guilt" over the death.

They also admitted to the same crime in connection with the other two children between 2007 and 2015.

Lady Stacey told them the youngsters had been subjected to a "chaotic" lifestyle.

The judge added: "They were entitled to a better home-life than they had. When your youngest daughter died, your house was a in a shocking state.

"I don't think you need me to point out, but you had been offered advice, it was not taken. You knew the children were dependent on you. You failed in your duties to these children."

Parents: They were jailed for more than six years each.
Parents: They were jailed for more than six years each.

The court heard the pair had been a couple for more than 15 years and both regarded themselves as Lauren's "parents", although Wade was described as "the mother".

Lauren was "plainly unwell" and "emaciated" for days before she died.

On March 20, 2015, a 999 call was made after Lauren was found to be "unresponsive". The child was rushed to hospital but soon pronounced dead.

Prosecutor Bill McVicar said: "The most significant effect of the failure to provide a proper diet is the malnutrition of Lauren which caused complications leading to her death."

Lauren was described as "skinny, dirty and unkempt" at the time. She also had a sodden nappy, bald patches and "thousands" of head lice.

Wade told nurses Lauren had been suffering from a virus for a couple of days.

Police probed the horrific living conditions Lauren and the other children had been subjected to.

Mr McVicar added: "Paramedics later noticed that the cover she had been lying on was covered in lice and fleas. They had to clean and decontaminate the ambulance."

'Paramedics later noticed that the cover she had been lying on was covered in lice and fleas.'
Prosecutor Bill McVicar

One detective who later viewed the Foutainwell Drive flat branded it "one of the most disgusting houses" he had visited in his police career.

The court heard it was littered with rubbish, leftover food, dirty plates and clothes. There were also "hundreds" of insects and flies.

The chairman of Glasgow's Child Protection Committee called the case "an appalling tragedy" and said the cruelty and deceit of the women had helped them avoid what they perceived as interference from outside agencies.

Colin Anderson added: "People should not be afraid to highlight their concerns to prevent a tragedy such as this ever happening again."

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