Dad abandons severely-handicapped daughter for 10 hours to drink
9:52am Tuesday 15th October 2013 in News
A DAD left his severely-handicapped 18-year-old daughter helpless and alone at their Newport home for ten hours while he went out drinking, a court heard today.
Police were alerted when Nicholas Campbell's younger daughter, aged 11, rang 999 because she was so concerned about her older sister being home alone.
Officers then broke into Campbell's home in Church View, Newport, near Berkeley, and found his disabled daughter Paige sitting in her wheelchair in the dark with the television blaring loudly.
With a mental age of only 11 months she was incapable of doing anything for herself.
A beaker of water was nearby but she would not have been able to reach it. When officers handed it to her she gulped it down thirstily, Gloucester crown court heard.
Single dad Campbell, 49, who had gone out at 3pm on August 22 this year, did not return until 1.10am.
He had his son, 7, and daughter,11, in the car with him and he smelt of alcohol but refused to give a breath test when police arrested him.
Two days before abandoning Paige he had been arrested for drink driving when he was 3 times over the limit, the court was told., Campbell pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol on August 20, willfully neglecting Paige on Aug 22nd and refusing a breath test on the same date.
Judge Alistair McGrigor sentenced him to a 12 months jail suspended for two years and banned him from driving for four years.
He said he had decided not to pass an immediate jail term because Campbell had care of his two younger children and until the offences had also cared well for Paige single-handedly since soon after she was born.
The offences happened at a time when Campbell had 'mentally collapsed' because of the pressure on him, the death of his father and the serious illness of his mother, the judge added.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the drink drive offence happened when Campbell was seen driving erratically on the A38 between Gloucester and Whitminster on August 20 and was pulled in.
He was three times over the limit and was abusive to police, telling one officer "You wait till I see you next - I will be sitting outside your house. I am going to take of you wa****s out."
Mr Kesner said on August 22 "he left his 18 year old daughter Paige, who is severely disabled, and went out to drink.
"Paige has the mental capacity of an 11 month old baby. She cannot feed herself. She is incontinent in nappies. She sits in a wheelchair which she is unable to move herself, She requires constant care.
"She is in danger of doing injury to herself if she is left unsupervised.
"But she was left unsupervised for ten hours even though he is her carer and it is his responsibility to provide her with the constant care she needs.
"When he went out that day he took with him his 11-year-old daughter.
It was she who, no doubt concerned for her elder sister being left at home, called the police.
"Having spoken to an operator asking to be put through to the police, however, she discontinued the call. Her phone number was traced to her home address and the police went there, found it in darkness, and forced entry at 9.30pm.
"Paige was in her wheelchair sitting in darkness except for the blaring TV, It was so loud that the officers could not hear each other call from different rooms.
"There was a drink but it was out of Paige's reach. An officer passed it to her and she gulped it down.
"The defendant didn't appear till 1.10am. He drove slowly onto his driveway and had his son and daughter with him. When he saw the police were there he tried to reverse out again but had been blocked in behind by a police car.
"PC Simon Greenfield could smell alcohol on his breath and he said he'd had a couple of drinks. Asked for a breath sample he said "I'm providing you with f*** all."
Being taken to the police station under arrest he said "I told them two days ago I will continue to drink and drive and I will carry a gun next time."
Mr Kesner said "He continued to threaten police officers, saying he would wait for them outside the police station and follow them home."
Campbell later told police he had intended to leave Paige for only a short time while he went to the pub to ask the landlord who had 'grassed' him two days earlier. But he got drinking and others took his keys off him so he could not drive home.
Mr Kesner said Cambell has 23 previous criminal convictions including two for drink driving in 1993 and 2006.
Dermot Clarke, defending, said Campell had cared for Paige since soon after her birth when her mother left him. He was also carer for his two younger children by a second wife who had now also gone.
The 20th of August was Campbell's one night of freedom when he had respite care and he had gone out drinking and got caught, he said.
Then he decided to go to the pub on August 22 to find out who had reported him to the police and had not been able to return to Paige because his car keys were taken, said Mr Clarke.
"He is absolutely disgusted with himself," said Mr Clarke. "Paige is now in care but he visits her twice a week and is desperate to have her back home. He is still sole carer for his two younger children."
Campbell had left the TV on for Paige on her favourite music channel and had also left 3 fig biscuits, her favourites, as well as a drink in a beaker, Mr Clarke added.
Judge McGrigor said "I take into account that you appear to be genuinely remorseful. I also take into account that if you go to prison both your two younger children would most likely go into care and you will very likely lose your home as a result."
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