Former friend speaks of anger after child cruelty couple escape jail
A FORMER friend whose evidence helped to convict a couple of child cruelty has spoken of her anger after the defendants walked free from court with suspended prison sentences.
Nicola Linyard had reported Emma Cartwright and Neil Gleaves to police and was then a main prosecution witness in their trial.
The 27-year-olds were convicted of child cruelty after a toddler was not taken to hospital for at least two days – despite having six broken bones.
The jury at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court also found Cartwright had slapped another young child across the face.
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The same child was also violently shaken by Gleaves.
Following last week's sentencing hearing, mother-of-two Nicola Linyard, of Wolstanton, who gave evidence in court about the slap, told The Sentinel: "The child was crying in the pushchair and Cartwright said 'shut the hell up' and slapped it across the face.
"It was with her left hand, across the right side of the kid's face.
"I jumped in front of her and pushed her away. I asked her what she was doing. I said, 'how can you do that to a kid'?
The defendants, of Wedgwood Street, Wolstanton, were given 36-week prison sentences, suspended for two years, while Gleaves was ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work.
Nicola added: "The sentence is unbelievable.
"It's like the judge is sending out a message to say that it's OK to be cruel to children.
"Drink-drivers get sent straight down, but these two have been allowed to walk free."
The couple were spared prison because Recorder Simon Ward said it was their first offence.
The court heard Cartwright had spent much of her childhood in foster care.
But 29-year-old Nicola said: "I've been in foster care before and I haven't failed to take a child with broken bones to hospital for a number of days."
Children's charities have condemned the sentence imposed last Thursday.
NSPCC official Sandra Lescott-Robinson said: "It is appalling that the children involved in this case have been harmed.
"It seems that there were problems for this couple.
"But, unfortunately, this case is not unique.
"Each year in the UK, 379,000 children are injured where physical abuse is an issue.
"Physical abuse and other forms of abuse, such as neglect, are often combined, leaving children incredibly vulnerable to harm.
"We urge any parent who suspects a child is being abused or neglected to speak out about their concerns by contacting social services, the police, or calling the NSPCC on 0808 8005000."