Child left in hot car while dad played pokies to ‘de-stress’
A CENTRAL Queensland father locked his five-year-old child in his vehicle for about 50 minutes while he "de-stressed" at the poker machines at a pub.
It was the middle of the day when the man in his late 40s left his sickly daughter unattended in his car, which was parked outside the Allenstown Hotel while he played the pokies.
The child was found by nearby bottle-o staff in a hot, sweaty condition with matted hair, no sign of food or water and just one window open slightly, Blackwater Magistrates Court heard.
Solicitor Zoe Craven told the court the man's older daughter was meant to be looking after the child - but after an argument with her father, she got out of the car and walked away.
Instead of waiting for his elder daughter to return, he went inside the hotel leaving his five-year-old unattended about 2.30pm on July 26 this year.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to leaving a child under 12 unattended.
Ms Craven said he took full responsibility for his actions.
"He wasn't thinking clearly at the time and was operating under stress," she said.
The father is the full-time carer of the five-year-old, who has had multiple medical issues since birth.
He travels constantly throughout Central Queensland to take her to specialists and nutritionists.
"He exercised poor judgment," Ms Craven said.
"For the most part he has been a very caring and attentive father to his child."
Ms Craven told the court the man had been stressed from financial and family matters and did not have any family support in the region.
The court heard that since the incident, he had since reached out to support services.
Magistrate Robert Walker said it was an offence of such seriousness that a period of imprisonment would be an appropriate penalty.
But after taking into consideration the man's role as a full-time carer and single father, Mr Walker placed him on 18 months' probation with a conviction recorded.