Dad who left daughter in car for ‘minutes’ to buy Calpol was charged by police

Tim Haines was charged after leaving daughter Iset in car for a few minutes
Tim Haines was charged after leaving daughter Iset in car for a few minutes

A father who left his two-year-old daughter alone for a few minutes while he went into a shop found himself being arrested and prosecuted.

Tim Haines left Iset in his car while he went into a chemist to buy Calpol in Worcestershire in England.

He said he was in the store no longer than five minutes but when he returned to the car, two police officers were waiting.

He was not allowed to drive home because of a problem with his tyres, so had to carry his daughter home.

Mr Haines said: "Then, about three weeks later there was a knock on the door and there were two policemen there. They said I was being arrested for wilful exposure of a child to risk of harm."

He was bailed and then charged but refused to accept he was guilty of any crime over the incident in 2004.

He denied the allegations against him but was found guilty at a magistrates' court and handed an absolute discharge.

Mr Haines, 51, was adamant he could not accept having the offence on his record and lodged an appeal, which was successful.

"The judge said 'Is that supposed to be a crime?'" he said.

It was more than a year before the original ruling was overturned.

Describing his emotions during the ordeal, the family law advocate said: "I didn't have any idea what was going on. The impact took a while to sink in.

"I didn't know this was something that was going to be completely life-changing.

"I didn't think I was doing anything different to what you see people doing when they drop off one child at school and leave another in the car or go in to pay at the petrol garage."

As well as facing a criminal investigation, the original incident also triggered inquiries by local social services.

Mr Haines and his wife Julie feared at times that their five children could be taken away from them.

Mrs Haines, also 51, said: "It was a massive emotional upheaval. We didn't know what might happen. It was a very real fear."