Mother left baby alone to go drinking, dancing

A mother who left her baby outside an Opotiki church while she drank beer and danced inside a bar has been sentenced in the Whakatane District Court.

Arohanui O Te Ao Geldard, 29, was yesterday convicted on charges of leaving a child under the age of 14 unsupervised, and theft.

She was fined $500 and court costs for leaving her child alone, sentenced to 120 hours' community work and nine months' supervision and ordered to pay reparation of $7.50 on the theft charge.

A police summary stated that at 12.11pm on February 11, police were called to Slims Bar in Opotiki as a young child, thought to be 6 months old, had been found in a pram outside a church on Church St.

When police arrived, Maori wardens were caring for the baby, who appeared to be cold and hungry. The child wore only a nappy and a singlet, with a thin blanket covering his legs, and had been screaming.

Thirty minutes later a woman was seen leaving Slims Bar and walking towards where the baby was found. She was seen to stop and look before returning to the bar.

Police went into Slims Bar and found Geldard moderately drunk, still drinking and dancing at a table. She admitted leaving the baby, saying she had gone to Slims to watch the dancing and was "just going to finish her handle". The theft charge related to Geldard reaching behind the bar and taking alcohol.

Sergeant Caoin Macey told the court it was Geldard's second conviction for leaving a child unsupervised.

Judge Louis Bidois told her to take stock of her life. "Drinking and offending is not going to help you at all."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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