A COUPLE who ‘abandoned’ their three young children - one of them just a baby - whilst they went out on the town and got drunk, have walked free from court.

The pair, from Nelson, were slammed as probably unfit to have the responsibility of young children by a judge, who said their actions had beggared belief.

The defendants appeared at Burnley Crown Court for sentence, after earlier each admitting three counts of child neglect.

The mother, 21, and her 29-year-old partner had been committed for sentence by Pennine magistrates. They cannot be named for legal reasons.

The lower court had earlier been told how the mother was said to have told police she couldn't give a ‘s...’ about her children as she headed out on the late night drinking session.

Officers had turned up to find the tots ‘home alone’ at about 3am on September 3, after the mother's own sister called the police.

Police officers had forced their way into the family home, where they were said to have found two children under five behind the front door. The months-old baby was asleep in a bedroom.

The court had earlier been told the parents arrived home at about 4am and were both very drunk. Police officers were looking after the three children.

The father, questioned by police later that day, admitted it was a ‘stupid thing to do’ and claimed they usually had a babysitter.

Sentencing at the crown court, Recorder Andrew Long said the defendants had, despite the fact they had no babysitter, decided to go out for a drink and abandon their children and ‘astonishingly’ didn't return home for eight hours.

The judge said: "The fact is, anything at all could have happened to them."

Recorder Long told the defendants :" I strongly suspect that both of you are unfit to have the responsibility for the care of young children."

The judge added, however, he accepted the pair both realised what they had done was serious and were suitably ashamed of themselves. He said it was the first offence they had committed, they had pleaded guilty and appeared to be in the process of learning their lesson.

Both defendants were given 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 18 months supervision. The mother received a three month curfew, between 8pm and 6am and the father was also ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.