The parents of a toddler who starved to death after suffering horrific neglect have each been jailed for more than six years.

Margaret Wade, 38, and Marie Sweeney, 37, left two-year-old Lauren Wade without proper food or care for months at their chaotic and filthy flat in Glasgow.

She was emaciated, dirty and covered in thousands of head lice when she died in March 2015. The ambulance that took her to hospital had to be decontaminated afterwards, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Wade and Sweeney were originally accused of killing Lauren but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of the wilful ill-treatment and neglect of the child between June 2014 and March 2015. They also admitted neglecting two other children over an eight year period.


They were sentenced amid concerns over the failure of care workers to intervene. At the time of Lauren's death no agency had seen her for eight months.

Lauren Wade was covered in head lice. Photo / Facebook
Lauren Wade was covered in head lice. Photo / Facebook

The judge Lady Stacey told the jobless couple the children had been subjected to a chaotic lifestyle and when Lauren died their home was in a "shocking state".

She added: "I don't think you need me to point out, but you had been offered advice, it was not taken. You knew the children were dependent on you. You failed in your duties to these children."

The neglect and death of Lauren was described as one of the "most challenging" cases in the last 50 years of Scottish child protection.

She was seen a number of times by social workers, but a significant case review by the Glasgow Child Protection Committee said a failure to reassess her home conditions in June/July 2014 was a "key missed opportunity" in the case.

It said care workers should have made a broader assessment of the home circumstances, but instead were led by the health and hygiene issues, such as head lice.

According to the review there were a number of indications of neglect, but the toddler was not at the centre of the assessment process and health, education and social staff failed to communicate effectively.

Wade, who told police she felt "no guilt" over her daughter's death, and Sweeney were each sentenced to six years and four months at the High Court in Glasgow after guilty pleas last month.


Their flat in the Sighthill was described by a detective as "one of the most disgusting" he had ever seen. It was littered with rubbish, leftover food, dirty plates and clothes.

A 999 call was made on March 20, 2015, after an emaciated Lauren was found to be "unresponsive" on a couch. The "skinny and dirty" child was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead around 30 minutes later.

Wade told nurses Lauren had been suffering from a virus for a few days, but a post mortem revealed the toddler was a victim of "severe neglect" and had died due to "complications with malnutrition".

Bill McVicar, prosecuting, said: "The kitchen was so full of bags of rubbish that there was barely enough space to open the door. Pot Noodle appeared to be the staple family diet."

The court heard a school nurse made an unprompted visit to the property in June 2014 and social workers were then alerted before a health visitor found the flat to be "messy". But during a further inspection it was said to be clean and "unrecognisable".

Mr McVicar added: "Since that visit the conditions deteriorated again...causing all three children to live again in an unsafe and unhygienic environment."

Colin Anderson, chairman of Glasgow's Child Protection Committee, said the cruelty and deceit of the women had helped them avoid what they viewed as interference from outside agencies.