A TWO-YEAR-OLD girl ran naked into the street, closely followed by her older sister, as their 'negligent' mother slept upstairs.

Bolton Crown Court heard the 36-year-old had recently stopped taking her anti-depressant medication which had left her feeling ‘sleepy and groggy’

Prosecutor William Donnelly told the court how, on Sunday July 30, a neighbour had found the younger of the two girls, aged two, running naked past her home.

She was followed by her four-year-old sister wearing school uniform.

He continued: “The neighbour, to her great credit, took the children into her own home, covered the younger child in a blanket and took them home because she knew where they lived.

“The neighbour was unable to get a response from the front of the address, as the door was secure and a short time later the police were summoned and attended.

“They also tried to get a response at the front but were unsuccessful so went to the rear of the property and found the door was insecure.

“They went upstairs and found the mother had fallen asleep upstairs in the front bedroom and she was awakened.”

He added the mother told officer that she had gone for a ‘lie down’ with the children a couple of hours earlier.

"The children had fallen asleep first and she had no idea they had left the house.

She also explained that the younger child had been wearing underwear and the older one was wearing a school uniform as she was excited about starting school.

Alison Heyworth, defending, told the court: "She has now lost all contact with her children which for a mother of young children is as bad a punishment as can be - particularly as this can be properly termed as short-term neglect rather than anything more sinister, active, or more long term.”

She added: “It is something she will regret for the rest of her life.”

However she agreed with Judge Timothy Stead that there had been ‘clear evidence’ that the mother was ‘not coping’ with her parental responsibilities.

But she added that she had been a victim of domestic violence and had welcomed the help of social services since the imprisonment of the perpetrator.

Ms Heyworth also told the court that she had suffered an unhappy childhood that she was still struggling to come to terms with, but now had a new partner who was proving a 'stabilising' influence on her life.

She hope to have contact with her children once she had dealt with the problems that had 'overwhelmed' her.

Handing down a sentence for two counts of child cruelty, Judge Timothy Stead, said the circumstances in which the incident had occurred were ‘distressing in their own right’ but the mother’s actions had been ‘neglectful’.

He said: “Children of that age can’t always be relied upon to make wise decisions for themselves.You fell asleep and they younger of your children was running naked down the street at tea time.”

He continued: “Rather than abandonment this is a case of short-term neglect.”

Judge Stead handed down a sentence of a 12-month community order under on each count, under which 25 days of rehabilitation activity will be required.