Father charged for leaving child in car to go shopping

LEAVING a child alone in the car while at the shops for even one minute was unacceptable, a magistrate has told a Toowoomba father.

Police attending another matter near Masters Home Improvements had spotted a four-year-old girl playing alone in the front seat of a vehicle in the car park, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard.

The car was unlocked with windows slightly down and the girl appeared scared when police approached, police prosecutor Sergeant Mike Robinson said.

The girl's father returned to the car and told police he had asked his daughter if she had wanted to go with him into the store but she had wanted to remain in the car, he said.

The 31-year-old man, who is not named so as to protect the identity of his daughter, pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving a child under 12 unsupervised for an unreasonable time.

His solicitor Phil Stainton said though police claimed his client had been away from his car for 14 minutes, his client instructed he had kept the car in his line of sight while in the store but had gone with a shop assistant to look at a product.

His client believed he was out of sight of his car for a much shorter period.

Mr Stainton submitted it had been a cold and windy day and there had been no risk of overheating.

His client had no criminal history at all and the particular offence was at the lower end of the scale for which the legislation was intended, he submitted.

Magistrate Bruce Schemioneck told the man that even if his daughter didn't want to go with him to the store, he should have taken her anyway.

"Whether it's one minute or 14 minutes, if someone takes your car the child is gone with it," he said.

The man was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.

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