Children forced to share home with dead pets


By Neil Pooran


The court heard police officers discovered a dead hamster and guinea pig at the home of Ms McMaster

FOUR children were forced to live in a filthy house with their dead pets, a court heard today (Wed).

Shocked officers found a dead hamster and guinea pig at the home of Vicky Kim McMaster, along with a lawnmower, bottles of cider and unsafe furniture.

The 20-year-old, who was responsible for caring for the youngsters, was drunk when police arrived, a court heard today (Wed).

MacMaster pled guilty to breaching the children and young person’s act by allowing children to live in an ‘unsafe and unclean environment’ and exposing them to unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

The children, aged between three and 10, have since been placed in care and MacMaster was today sentenced to 167 hours of community service.

Fiscal depute Mairi Vernon told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that police officers arrived at the house at 7am on 21 May 2010.

She said officers had trouble establishing MacMaster’s identity as she was quite drunk.

“The house was extremely untidy and unclean. There were many items on the floor including a lawnmower, a mattress and bottles of cider.”


She added: “Officers found a box of straw containing a dead hamster.

“The hallway had a cage covered in a blue sheet, this contained a dead guinea pig.

“A wardrobe in the hall looked likely to topple over at any time.”

The four children involved have now been placed in care, she said.

Ms Vernon said when police officers were taking a child in the house away to stay with relatives, the three-year-old was ‘very clingy’ to the officers involved and appeared to be suffering from head lice.

She added: “The children have been arranged to be placed in foster care homes.”

Ms McMaster’s defence lawyer Jaqueline McColl said: “This is a very serious matter.”

She said a report prepared by the criminal justice social work department on the accused made for ‘depressing reading in terms of her own background.’

She said: “She does appear to have made some real progress and as a result of that there have been no further offences.”

Sentencing her, Sheriff Neil Mackinnon said: “This is a serious charge and I have to take a serious view of the matter.

“I am persuaded that there is an alternative to custody.”

He said a report would be made to Scottish ministers about the case.

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