A DRUNK father who abandoned his two-year-old child in a Weymouth car park at night has been jailed for six months.
Neil John Schofield, aged 35, was sentenced at Dorchester Crown Court for an offence of child cruelty.
Richard Tutt, prosecuting, said that on Carnival Day last year the defendant went into Weymouth with the youngster at around 11am.
He said the Schofield’s partner was awoken that night by him coming in around 10.30pm and that he was “screaming at her” asking where the child was.
Mr Tutt said he appeared to be “under the influence of drink”.
When it emerged the child was not with him they went round to a friend's house that the defendant had been with earlier with but the youngster was not there either.
Police were later called to the Wyke Smugglers pub at around midnight after Schofield arrived in a “distressed state” as the publican was closing up.
Mr Tutt said he claimed he had been attacked and his son had been taken, something the judge later dismissed as Schofield "concocting stories".
When police arrested Schofield, of no fixed abode, on suspicion of child neglect he asked: “Have you found my son?”
As he was arrested police observed that Schofield was drunk and said he was “extremely emotional and aggressive” and made threats to officers.
Mr Tutt said earlier that night, just before 10pm, a member of the public had contacted them reporting a man lying on the ground next to a pushchair in the car park of the Job Centre in Newstead Road, Weymouth.
When police arrived they found a child in the pushchair but no trace of the man.
Mr Tutt said it had been raining that day and the child was cold and wet.
Officers wrapped the child in a blanket and he was taken to hospital to be examined while they waited at the scene for an hour to see if the male would return but nobody appeared.
A paediatric registrar said that, while the child was examined and found to be unharmed, the state in which he was found had exposed him to the risk of serious harm.
Mr Tutt said: “The point that she makes is that he was cold and wet when he was found and as a result of that was at risk of profound hypothermia and dehydration.”
Patricia Sheehan, mitigating, said her client’s recollection of the incident was “limited” because of the amount he had had to drink and that it was a 'single incident', the enormity of which had 'floored' Schofield.
She said: “This was a single incident of short term abandonment.”
Miss Sheehan added: “I don’t think for one second that he doesn’t understand the enormity of what happened.
“I think it has absolutely and utterly floored him.”
As he sentenced the defendant, Judge Jonathan Fuller told him: "This is a case of you, knowing you had care of a child, going out to get drunk and totally disregarding the consequences for this child."
He added: "It would strike anyone with horror to think that a child aged two strapped into a pushchair on a rainy night was abandoned by a drunken parent in a public car park."