A MOTHER who took her three-year-old daughter with her on a drinking spree in the city centre could face a bigger punishment than prison, York magistrates heard.

The 31-year-old woman got so drunk she fell over in the street, said Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting.

She couldn’t answer basic questions or stand up unaided. Her behaviour upset her daughter so much the child started crying.

When police arrested the woman, she fell asleep at the Fulford Road Police Station custody suite reception and could not be roused.

Duty solicitor Kevin Blount said social workers had taken the child from her and imposed a rigorous set of conditions for the mother to have her daughter back.

“It is far more intensive or onerous than anything the court could impose and there is a far bigger penalty for breaching them than anything the court can impose. The court can take away her liberty, but social services can take away her child.”

The single mother from north York, who lives on benefits, pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a child, an offence which carries a prison sentence.

Magistrates gave her a two-year conditional discharge and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and a £15 statutory surcharge. She is not being named to protect the child’s identity.

Mr Blount said the mother had signed a contract with social services in order to get custody of the child back.

Its terms included: relatives checking up on her every day, regular contact and checks by social workers, not taking the child into pubs and clubs and not drinking in the child’s presence.

Miss Reeve said a member of the public alerted police to the mother’s behaviour in Clarence Street on February 15.

When she was fit to be interviewed, she told police she, her daughter and a friend had gone to one pub at 5pm where they had stayed an hour before going to a second pub. She couldn’t remember anything after that.

Mr Blout said she had had four or five pints and believed it had gone straight to her head because she hadn’t had anything to eat that day.