Woman who left 5-year-old in house with burning candle jailed for 6 months


Six months imprisonment was the sentence ordered by Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh to a woman who failed to provide proper care and protection for her child in 2019.

The woman, who has 5 other children, left her 5-year-old daughter at home with a candle burning.

A stranger driving on Kentish Road noticed a child running across the road and stopped.

He took the child to a friend’s house nearby and inquired into the whereabouts of her mother.

The child said she did not know and the neighbour then called the woman several times but was not able to reach her.

When he took the child to her home, he noticed that no one was home but a lit candle was in the house.

The child was then taken to the police station and later that night the mother showed up to report the same child missing.

Officers brought the child to her, cautioned her and later charged her with the offense.

The woman appeared in court today for what was supposed to be her trial. She however, decided to admit to the crime.

The 44-year-old woman was represented by Attorney Ralph Francis who argued that the woman did not want harm to come to the child but  made an error in judgement.

She then told the court that she left the child on the verandah where there was a gate and thought that the neighbours would be watching her as they were accustomed to doing.

The Magistrate inquired into the mental wellness of the woman and the woman stated that she is not crazy.

She was therefore sentenced to spend 6 months in jail and was told that she should refrain from having more children.

The convict then broke down in tears as she returned to her seat.

The 5-year-old is presently in the custody of an aunt.

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  1. It is so easy for the court to hear matters when it comes to poor people, and to quickly pass judgement. Why?
    The fact that there was a candle in the home used to provide light means that the single parent is unable to pay her electricity bill, meaning that she’s unemployed or under employed.
    She has to look after her children, and was out trying to do just that. The neighbours, whose job it is to help raise the child, could only take that coirse of action? And the aunt who now has custody of the child, where was she all along? Why didn’t she see it fit to help take care of the child before this incident? Some persons use the misfortune of others to get publicity and appear like saviours and angels.
    Was there a social inquiry done prior to sentencing? That was not mentioned in the story. Couldn’t the magistrate seek to find a job for the mother, on the government job programme or elsewhere?
    When those high in society run afoul of the law, all sorts of excuses and legal gymnastics are performed to circumvent the court system, or to get them off the hook, yet the book is thrown at the lower class for the simplest infraction.

    • I agree with you. The woman needs help, not imprisonment. Lord, let this sentence be revoked in the name of Jesus and send someone to help her and her family as only You can. I sympathize with you darling.

    • A child was endangered. There’s been cases of homes burning down when children are left alone with a burning candle. It’s not a small infraction. If someone kidnapped or molested the child when the child was left unsupervised, you would be saying something else. Unless the neighbour is the father of the child, they have no obligation to assist. Why would the magistrate help her look for a job? She name One Stop Employment Centre? We need to stop acting as if women are helpless idiots who can’t do better. Refusing to take responsibility for your actions hurts you most in the end.You can’t expect people to be a hero for you. Want better for yourself and tap breed dung di place. 44 years old and acting like a damn fool. No one’s fault but her own.

      • Mmm you need some humility and empathy. Some people can’t relate until it happens to them. Additionally, she didn’t ‘breed dung di place’. We are told of one child.

        • Are you illiterate?!!!!! The article says she rasshole hab 5 other pickney. Unemployment can happen to anyone but having so many mouths to feed will obviously make the situation more difficult. I don’t need any humility or empathy. What people need is to hold people accountable for the dumb things they do. No, I won’t be in the same position. Let’s not pretend birth control doesn’t exist. Let’s not pretend saving does not exist along with common sense. This woman put her child at risk. Focus on that.

    • This is so true and so sad. Swift court hearing. No adjournment, instant sentencing. For a woman who can pay an electricity bill. Awaiting swift justice for the others.

  2. ***EDITOR*** Please use this version and not previous *** Thanks ***

    So this woman left a five year old child alone in a house with a candle burning and you want to blame everyone else for not helping? Is your head in your backside? She should have asked for help first, or asked if the child could be left with someone. How many of you leave a candle burning when you are not at home, let alone with a young child who has no sense of the dangers involved in a naked flame and how to react in the case of an accident!?! Do you think the magistrate is now social services? Why should she be finding the mother a job? Error of judgement that needs a short, sharp correctional stop!

    • I guess this situation brings to light the struggles that some people are going through, yet, we know by her admission that she is not crazy so she should have made a better decision to engage proper supervision for the child and blow out the candle when leaving home. Ask for help when u need it , don’t assume people will just see ur situation and help u although it happens sometimes. This could have ended much worse, I hope she and children get the assistance they need…I will keep them in my prayers.

    • She did ask for help ( electricity service being cut from the home of a single parent is a cry for help.) The same neighbours were at home when APUA came to disconnect. The same way they intervened to get the police involved to punish the helpless mother, they could have intervened long time ago to avert a prison sentence and children being away from their mother.
      And Yes, we as neighbours need to start take blame when we fail to be neighborly.
      (The only thing you could have done is to take the matter to the police?) The neighbour tried calling the mother, which means they have each others number. This story is so wrong on so many levels.
      Yes. The magistrate is in a social service position, and should have involved an NGO, a private sector organization or a government institution which can help this single parent.
      Will six months in prison make her a better parent? Will She, after her sentence, be able to provide for her children? I put it to you that she will only emerge from prison in a more disadvantaged and handicapped position.
      What if we all were imprisoned for “error of judgement “?

      • The help she should have asked for, was someone looking after the child until she got back home! The electricity being cut is not a cry for help, it’s a sign that the bill was not paid. What blame would you like neighbours to take? In her words it says ‘she thought’ they were keeping an eye on the child. Did she not know for sure? Why not place the child on the neighbours verandah, so that she was sure of what was happening? Unfortunately, six months in prison might not make her a better parent (and in some ways I think the magistrate should have considered a suspended sentence – given the admission of guilt and fact that she has a young child and presumably other children to look after), but she admitted to the crime. I think you’ll find that 99% of the people in prison are there for an ‘error of judgement’! We are all responsible for our own actions and a grown woman should know right from wrong. It’s clear that this is not the first time she has done this, but a prison sentence will hopefully make sure it’s the last!

      • It really could have just been a scented candle, no one said anything about what the candle was for. There was nothing there that indicates that she didn’t have a job. Everyone presenting their opinions but no one has any facts pertaining to the case. It could have just been a situation where the mother just made a careless mistake and forgot that the candle was lit.

        Some of these articles give very vague information so that it can elicit conversation in the comment section. All we really know is that the child was left on the veranda seemingly unattended with a candle lit in the house. We don’t have enough information to say if the courts decision was wrong or right unless personally involved.

    • Thank you!!! You can tell Antigua is filled with crappy parents who don’t even know how terrible they are. She wasn’t sentenced for being unable to afford electricity but for leaving her child unattended with a burning candle! How have they managed to miss the point? She just left and hoped and prayed the neighbours would look out for the child. It’s something she’s accustomed to doing and that’s the problem. Not being poor but being careless!

      • Her actions and the resulting outcome are as a result of her economic standing.
        Cause and effect.
        If she was high in society and had done the same thing she would not have been imprisoned. I’m looking at the response of the neighbours, police and the court.

  3. When reading this story, water kept running from my eyes. How would prison make her a better person? It’s not easy when you’re a single parent. SMH.

  4. AS I READ THE STORY, AND WHEN I READ THESE WORDS IN A COMMENT ABOVE: “When those high in society run afoul of the law, all sorts of excuses and legal gymnastics are performed to circumvent the court system, or to get them off the hook, yet the book is thrown at the lower class for the simplest infraction”, I SAID TO MYSELF, AT LEAST TWO PERSONS ARE THINKING THE SAME THING.

    I do not know all the facts of the case, and my question is asked based on the information presented to the public in the article.

    The best that could be done by the system is to send this woman to jail? Really?

    • My thoughts exactly. But some of the help out there ain’t really help either. It’s just for show.

      For example, years ago I was in a place in my life where I was basically homeless & unemployed for whatever reasons. I did everything I could to get myself together. Meanwhile, I was referred to Gender Affairs.

      The only thing the turtle head lady did was send me to Planned Parenthood and have her daughter question me for her SBA project.

      Anyways, dispite what life threw at me, I picked myself up & became a banker. My 2 kids & I will never have to go through that system of ineffectivity & fake help again. My heart goes out to those who have to.

      • The system doesn’t care about helping poor people. I grew up in a house without electricity- as did many people- and our mother would go to work or the village shop, or other places and leave a candle or a lamp lit. The neighbours around us knew of our situation, and never referred us to the police. All are not in a privileged position.
        I maintain that the first action by the neighbour- who had the lady’s phone number-was not the neighborly thing to do. This sounds like something you see on American TV where, in that country, everyone is a stranger. We existed in a neighbourhood of persons who look out for each other, but we have become so Americanized that we imitate their way of doing things.
        If the aunt knew that she could have assisted in taking care of the child, why didn’t she prior to this?
        Every little thing now is “child abuse” or “child endangerment.” When our mother left us with the candle or a lamp lit, we never felt any abuse, neglect or endangerment. As little as we were, we understood that she had to work to provide for us.

    • And SIX months at that?? In a global pandemic when we are supposed to be being more compassionate??

      I am hurt. The system does not seem to care about root causes of problems and follow up. Just insensitive draconian punishment.

      And okay she says she is not crazy but was any psychological examination done?

      Ok. Child now has a convict mother off the bat. Yay for justice!

      Send them very police officers for the alleged rapist minister man.

    • Exactly!!! A mother was killed and still 6 years later, NO JUSTICE.


  5. To all u self rightous people who ah lef comments betcha if it min b one man aru same self rightous bunch wudda want fu chatise he. Big 44 year old woman ah do dem shit. Me to want dem tek way she pikney and dem

      • I said wtf I said. If it min b one nan aru dutty hyprocrital rass wudda want fu chastise he. Me want dem tek way she pikney from she.

          • Me mad? Ha looka joke. Me say WTF me say! Ayru rass to phucking hyprocrital ya. Me want dem tek way she pikney an dem. She rass cateles ah left pikney pan gallery an expect neighbour fu look after fu she pikney while she gwan bout she merry way. Aru here ah one bunch ah phucking hyprocrites! If it was ah man ayru rass wudda want fu phucking hang he. She rass me nah sorry fu she!

        • How can you pass judgement on someone you do not know?
          No one here knows the situation the woman and her family is in. You have no right to say that the child should be taken away from her. It doesn’t affect her alone but also her family. I understand your point but that isn’t the way to go about expressing your opinion.

          Although, her decision to leave the child home alone with the lit candle is indeed careless and should have put proper care in place for the child when she left. The 6 months in prison may seem harsh, but could have been the decent choice of action or could have given her community service and to give a court order that she isn’t alone with the child for those 6 months instead. Her actions that got her in the court in the first place is what is to be judged not how she decides to be there for her other children.
          Parents are not superheroes and will make mistakes when it comes to raising their children, the court is doing what they see as a good disciplinary action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

          Literally, no one brought up anything about if it was a man. I certainly wasn’t thinking about no man except, “Where was the father during this time?” not to put judgement on him but a thought.

  6. Wait? And told to refrain from having more children??? Excuse me?? We’re policing reproductive rights now.

    Our PM had a ROUGH upbringing and perhaps not the world’s greatest parents/mom but he is now out chief servant!! How dare the magistrate pass her place to wash her mouth on this woman in that manner?
    Also, how far can she go in her quest to abide by that advice? Abortion included?

    Not to mention that having children is on two humans.

    • The Magistrate right!!!!!!! Look at the comments blaming everyone other than Jesus Christ for this overgrown child’s poor decision – making. People, especially women are always looking for help as if they are inept. So instead of making yourself a further burden to humanity- TAP BREED DUNG DI PLACE!!!! We are right to tell an incompetent mother like her not to have any more children because these same women will go on Facebook and bawl about they need help and blame their parliamentary representative for not giving them a handout when they would have willingly spread their crotches and let a man shoot their club up making him baby daddy number 7. Wotlessness.

      • @Mmm ya check dem to phucking hyprocritical ya she rass hab one gang a phucking pikney and want nigga fu look after dem. Me to want dem ten dem way from she rass. Then dem self rightous nigga ah talk bout she need help. She rass min need fu go family planning instead! And to u phucking hyprocrites I SAID WHAT THE PHUCK I SAID! IF AYRU NAH LIKE UM AYRU CAN PHUCK OFF!

        • Birth Control is not 100% effective. Also, some birth control options are not safe or readily available to people who do not have the money.
          Abortion is an option but let’s not pretend it wouldn’t have been a different discussion, you would probably be the one to speak on it first. Our society looks down on women who have abortions, abortions could also have a negative affect on the mothers physical health and the mental health of the parents; men can also be affected by something like that. She made the decision to give her children a chance at life and shouldn’t be looked down on because of that.

          The idea that if you are not ready to have a child then you shouldn’t be having sex is one sided cause no one is ever truly ready to have a child. Humans will have sex or procreate either expectantly or unexpected. We would like to think we are in control but we aren’t.

          There are so many different outcomes to what you think should happen but not all will bring about a positive outcome.

  7. There should be no single mothers that is what the government was elected to eliminate.

    Who wrote the letter to Asot Michael?

    When will the police act on the complaint of Rape?

    Who forged the Governor’s General Prime Minister’s signature?

    Why is the minister that released murders and rapist into the community still on the job?

    Why isn’t the person or persons that sold a valuable asset in the middle of St John’s before the court?

    When will NAMCO present audited financials?

    The young lady was jailed in 2020 because of her impoverish condition. So if she has more children that would be an automatic prison sentence?
    ANR my apologies but these mother phuckers keep protecting the real criminals.

  8. Is prison time the only punishment available for this lady.There needs to be alternate punishments on the books.Now that she is in Prison for 6 months .Who would be taking care of the children.I have seen in this medium.Where men had sex with under aged girls.They are given a fine and no custodial sentences by the Court.Who are those people dishing out sentences in Antigua and Barbuda.If you are poor and commit a crime in Antigua.Chances are you would be sentenced to do time in Prison.Cannot wait to see the back of this Magistrate, go NOW.

  9. If that honorable judge had donned her mommy robes instead of that man-stained one, I am the sentence would have been different. Incarceration for six months for an obviously needy mother of five could be more detrimental to all parties both in the short and long run. Can sentences be revisited? If so, this one should really be. Your honor, Lady Judge, a mother yourself, ponder this. For an indiscretion, for poor judgment in the art of child-raising, for potentially exposing her child to serious harm through poor decision making, a mother is taken from her children and is put in jail because that is your decision, the State’s pound of flesh. Then after sober reflection you might be able to say honestly, like many others, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

  10. damn this desperate woman needs help not 6 months jail time.I can only imagine her mental state ,wow she is already face down and simply need a lift up not to be trample down further.

  11. Can the relevant authority please seek a pardon for the lady that was sent to jail for six months please?

    A pardon like what the caucaside who brought in the ammunition got….

  12. I see everyone saying how the sentencing was harsh and how mush help she needs, but no-one is offering any help the the woman. If all we can do is only comment on the situation we should mine our business and stop commenting on the woman situation!

    • That is all they do just chat! Why did they go and help the woman before she ended up in that position. But that is Antigua people for you.

  13. Jail should not be the answer. But I don’t know all the details. More like community service.. yes she made a lapse in judgement. Maybe not the first time. However, she could have ask the neighbor to watch the child. However, if your child can’t go with you then you should not be there. But ask yourself this question. How many times have you done royal foolishness
    That if you get caught it is straight prison.Where is the father in all this?
    How is 6 mths in jail going to solve this? The root cause is still there. Some psychological help is needed. But as she say she nah crazy…

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