Bill McVicar Image copyright Mike Gibbons
Image caption Margaret Wade and Marie Sweeney will be sentenced in the new year

The parents of a malnourished toddler who died have admitted neglecting the child.

Two-year-old Lauren Wade was emaciated, dirty and riddled with head lice when she died in March 2015.

The filthy flat she lived in with parents Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, was described by one detective as the worst he had seen.

The pair admitted the wilful ill-treatment and neglect of Lauren between June 2014 and March 2015.

They also pled guilty to a similar charge in connection with two older children between 2007 and 2015.

‘Plainly unwell’

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the couple, of Townhead, Glasgow, did not keep the children clean, provide proper food clothes or medical care.

Prosecutor Bill McVicar said: “The most significant effect of the failure to provide a proper diet is the malnutrition of Lauren which caused complications leading to her death.”

The court heard Lauren was “plainly unwell” and “emaciated” for days before she died.

On 20 March 2015, a 999 call was made after Lauren was found to be “unresponsive”.

The child was rushed to hospital – but around 30 minutes later she was pronounced dead.

Lauren was described as “skinny, dirty and unkempt” at the time. She also had a sodden nappy, bald patches and “thousands” of head lice.

High Court
Image caption Lauren Wade was two when she died

Mr McVicar said: “Paramedics later noticed that the cover she had been lying on was covered in lice and fleas.

“They had to clean and decontaminate the ambulance.”

A post mortem revealed Lauren had been the victim of “severe neglect”. She died due to complications with malnutrition.

There was also evidence that lice had been there for “over 17 months” of her life.

The court heard the flat in Sighthill, Glasgow, was littered with rubbish, leftover food, dirty plates and clothes. There were also hundreds of insects and flies.

‘No guilt’

One detective who later viewed the Foutainwell Drive flat branded it “one of the most disgusting houses” he had visited in his police career.

Mr McVicar said: “It was neither a suitable nor safe environment for children.”

Wade was described in court as Lauren’s mother but both she and Sweeney regarded themselves as the toddler’s parents.

The pair were initially treated as witnesses during the police probe and later assessed by social workers.

Mr McVicar said: “Margaret Wade accepted no responsibility for her failings in basic parenting.

“She said she had no guilt over Lauren’s death.”

Sweeney meantime accepted she should have been “more forceful” regarding the state of the house.

Wade and Sweeney originally faced a culpable homicide allegation but prosecutors accepted their guilty pleas to an amended charge of wilful ill-treatment and neglect.

Sweeney’s QC Ian Duguid said: “Thankfully a death of this type is a rarity in this country in the 21st century.”

Their lawyers asked for their bail to be continued.

But Lady Stacey remanded them in custody as sentencing was deferred for reports.

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