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London - A motorist who stopped after spotting a child seat dumped in the middle of the road was stunned to find a baby strapped into it, a court heard.

Alex Wilson was driving along after dark when he saw the carrier at a junction.

He then noticed what appeared to be a foot sticking out of the side, pulled over and discovered the baby boy.

Prosecutor Danielle Gilmour told the court the seat had been left around three feet into the road at around 8.30 on a November evening when the temperature was just above freezing. The infant was wearing just a baby grow.

She said the seat was black and Mr Wilson could barely see it as there were no street lights.

He was about to turn left into the path of the seat in Ripon, North Yorskhire, when he changed direction to pick up a friend.

Having then spotted the seat, Mr Wilson and his passenger were initially worried it was a scam to get drivers out of their cars – but saw there was no one else about. Miss Gilmour said: "They became concerned about seeing the foot and made the decision to go back and look. The carrier was still in the road."

Police later found the mother "looking pale, unwell and crying". When asked if she had left the baby in the road, she told officers: "I couldn’t cope, so I left him for two minutes."

CCTV footage showed the mother placing the carrier at the junction and walking off, just minutes before the baby was discovered by Mr Wilson.

The woman, who has a long-term drug problem and a number of previous convictions related to her habit, was given a suspended eight-month prison sentence at York Crown Court and ordered to go on a 30-day rehabilitation programme.

The 26-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted a charge of abandoning a child and causing the child’s life to be endangered. Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Stubbs, QC, said the offence was a "shocking example of neglect".

He added: "You did something that was unimaginable to any parent. It was only due to the care of Mr Wilson that the carrier seat was recovered and no harm came to (the baby) but it could have been so, so different."

The judge said to leave a "young and helpless child" in such a situation would normally warrant a custodial sentence, but he suspended it as the mother was making efforts to beat her drug habit. Mr Wilson was commended for his ‘public-spirited’ actions and awarded £250 from public funds.

The joiner, 21, said after the case: "It was literally a child in a carrier, in the middle of the road.

"It was a completely black carrier and the only reason I saw it was because the boy had a lighter-coloured onesie on."

Mr Wilson said had he not changed direction to pick up his friend, "I’d have gone straight over the baby".

He added: "You don’t just leave a baby in the middle of a road."

Daily Mail