TWO children who were found on the roadside more than half-a-mile away from their home in the middle of the night had escaped while their mother was passed out on the sofa.

Officers who later visited the address found faeces on the ceiling, liquid on the floor in the hallway and mice roaming around the rooms of the Accrington property in December, 2020.

Needles, which the defendant said had been used for tanning, were also overflowing from a sharps box in the kitchen and a door which had been taken off its hinges was found in the middle of the property.

There was little food in the cupboards – mainly sweetcorn and rice, and the fridge was found outside in the garden.

Two more children were found inside the house – one in bed asleep upstairs and the second, who was just one year old at the time, lying on the floor in the living room next to a Christmas tree which had toppled over.

Preston Crown Court heard how the woman, a 36-year-old who cannot be named to protect the identities of her children, couldn’t be roused from her slumber for some time.

It then transpired she had taken both prescribed and non-prescribed medications and had been smoking cannabis.

She was later charged with four counts of child neglect, which she admitted to.

In her defence it was argued that she had been struggling with post-natal depression since the birth of her last child, and that the lockdowns imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic had taken their toll on her and the routine she had established to look after her four children.

Dealing with her, Judge Graham Knowles QC acknowledged that to send her to prison would be nothing but damaging for her children, who she had started seeing again after getting her life back on track.

Instead, a 12-month community order with conditions, including 20 days of rehabilitation, was imposed upon her.

She must also pay a £100 fine.