Mom Jailed for Facebooking While Child Drowns
Judge blames 'consistently bad parenting' for her son's death
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2015 4:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – A 31-year-old British mother has been sentenced to spend the next five years in jail after her 2-year-old son drowned in a pond while she was checking Facebook, the Guardian reports. Claire Barnett was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to child cruelty in connection with the death of her son Joshua in 2014, which the judge said was caused by "consistently bad parenting." According to the Telegraph, Joshua was playing with one of his three siblings near the fish pond outside their home when he fell in. Prosecutors say Barnett wasn't paying attention to him because she was busy uploading photos to Facebook and taking a call from her boyfriend. Joshua was unconscious when Barnett pulled him from the pond, and he died later at the hospital, the BBC reports.

Barnett's lawyer's defense of his client was that she was distracted by someone commenting on her Facebook page, not actively doing anything on Facebook herself, notes the BBC. "Any mother going about the house can be distracted by a telephone or a washing machine," he said. According to the Telegraph, relatives had warned Barnett to fence off or cover the pond. And just months earlier, neighbors called social services on Barnett after her children were nearly hit by a car while playing unsupervised in a busy street outside their home, the Guardian reports. “I trust that you will never be allowed to have further unsupervised contact to any child," the judge said during Barnett's sentencing. "You pose very serious risks to any child for whom you might have responsibility.” (In the US, a man swimming in a lake felt something brush his foot and ended up the savior of a little girl.)