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Ipswich: Val Haynes, who left a child alone in a house which caught fire, to be sentenced later this month

14:12 04 September 2014

Scales of Justice

Scales of Justice

A man who left a young child alone in a house which later caught fire will have to return to court later this month to find out his sentence.

Val Haynes, 50, appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to the charge of abandoning a child.

The court heard how Haynes, of Ramsey Close, Ipswich, had been looking after the child at a property in the town earlier this year before leaving it to pick a friend up from work.

Lucy Miller, prosecuting, said Haynes had volunteered to look after the child because the person who usually did this was unavailable.

Having looked after the child through the day, Haynes received a call to pick a friend up from work in the evening.

When he asked the child to come with him, they became difficult and refused. Although he wasn’t happy with leaving the child, Haynes decided he would because he thought he would be back quickly, Mrs Miller added.

However when he got back to the house around half an hour later, Haynes found the house on fire with police and fire crews in attendance.

Mrs Miller said an investigation showed the fire had probably been started by the child playing with a cigarette lighter.

She also said a neighbour had noticed the fire and tried to get into the house but couldn’t because the doors had been locked. In the end she saw the child and told them to go to the living room and open a window through which the child was rescued.

Mitigating, Claire Hullock said the 50-year-old had no previous convictions and would normally have been at work but was on holiday. She said he was just trying to help out and when he tried to organise the child to get into the car they became “stroppy”.

Ms Hullock added Haynes regretted the incident “most bitterly and dreadfully” and was haunted by what could have happened to the child, the property and other people.

She also said Haynes’ conviction would cause problems for him at work as well as jeopardise a trip to America he had been planning.

David Broughton, chairman of the bench, decided to adjourn the case for an all options pre-sentence report.

Haynes, who was given unconditional bail, must return to court on September 16 for sentencing.

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