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London - A British nanny has been jailed for locking two young children in a baking hot car while she went on a shoplifting spree.
When she was arrested for stealing from a supermarket, Anne Harries deliberately failed to mention the two-year-old girl and one-year-old boy to the police - condemning them to four hours alone in the sweltering vehicle.
The pair were only rescued after Harries’ husband arrived to collect her from the police station and asked her: “What have you done with the kids?”
On learning of the emergency, officers scrambled to find the youngsters.
When they finally found Harries’ Vauxhall Vectra in the car park of the Co-Op supermarket in Wildwood, Stafford, the car’s windows were so steamed up with condensation it was impossible to see inside.
The police put a hole in one of the windows to allow the hot air to escape and to get inside.
They found the two children drenched in sweat and red-faced from overheating.
Paramedics immediately gave them fluid to rehydrate them before taking them to hospital.
The little girl’s body temperature was almost three degrees above normal.
Harries, 51, an Ofsted-registered childminder of Cannock, Staffordshire, was jailed for one year after admitting two charges of child neglect and one of theft.
Judge Simon Tonking also banned her from working with children indefinitely and described her act as a “gross breach of trust”.
He told her the offences were so grave he would be failing in his public duty not to impose an immediate prison sentence.
He said: “I accept your intention was to leave them for no more than a few minutes.
“As it was, you didn’t return and minutes turned to hours and during that time, because there was no ventilation, that car became intolerably hot, so by the time they were rescued over four hours later, they were sweating profusely and dehydrated. The little girl’s temperature was abnormally high.
“The effects were, fortunately, not lasting - the effect on their mothers was devastating.
“Whilst you were at the police station, these mothers came to collect their children. Neither they nor you were there.
“One mother described being sick with worry and they were shocked when told their children had been taken to hospital.”
Paul Farrow, prosecuting, told the court that Harries was arrested at the Co-Op on May 2 this year after being spotted stealing £13 worth of fruit and meat.
A constable asked her how she had travelled to the store and she said she had got a lift from a friend and would get the bus back.
She was taken to the police station, where a set of car keys was found on her and she said they were for a Vauxhall which she had left in the car park.
The custody sergeant spoke to her husband, expressing his concern and was told she was suffering from depression.
Only when her husband asked her what she had done with the children did Harries admit that she had left them in the car, but added: “It’s all right - they were asleep.”
When questioned, Harries said that when she got to the Co-Op, both children were fast asleep and she decided to “nip in”.
She admitted stealing the items from the store, but thought she would be dealt with quickly.
Her mind went blank and she panicked and thought about the trouble she was in, finally apologising for what she did.
Mr Steven Bailey, defending, said Harries had written letters of apology to both sets of parents.
“She knows it is not going to put things right,” he said.
A medical report on Harries found that she was suffering from moderate to severe depression. - Daily Mail