SHE was racing into the shop to get things for her child, but it was that act itself that put a Mountain Creek woman's daughter's life at risk, and landed her in court on a charge with a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.
The 23-year-old single mother drove her daughter to Sunshine Plaza on December 29 last year.
She planned to buy a bin for the pair's new home, and a screwdriver to put together presents her three-year-old daughter received for Christmas.
But when they arrived, parking in an undercover section of the multi-storey car park near Coles supermarket, the little girl had fallen asleep.
Choosing not to wake her, the woman blasted the car's air-conditioning at 17 degrees for about 10 minutes, to cool the car, before getting out, locking the car, and rushing to Kmart, for what she expected would be 10 or 12 minutes.
Outside the temperature was 28 degrees.
Twenty-six minutes later, after an extra stop to buy pictures and place mats, she returned to the carpark to find the police arriving, and her daughter in the hands of a security guard.
Yesterday in Maroochydore Magistrates Court the woman pleaded guilty to leaving a child under 12 unattended and unsupervised for an unreasonable time.
Police prosecutor Rick Pallister said the little girl was not permanently or seriously injured, but the potential for harm was real.
The mother-of-one, neatly dressed, sat with her back straight and her ankles crossed, weeping silently throughout the court proceedings.
Her solicitor, Chelsea Emery, told the court the mother was "greatly distressed" by the proceedings, and that she had broken down when she returned to the car park.
Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist the woman's behaviour was "grossly uncharacteristic".
He said what set this incident apart from other cases where young children were left unattended in cars or homes was the fact that the mother had not left to go drinking or gambling.
"That's something that's often a feature."
He ordered her to serve a $2000 one-year good behaviour bond.
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