03/11/2014 12:17 EDT | Updated 05/11/2014 05:59 EDT

House arrest for Winnipeg woman who left kids alone while she went drinking

WINNIPEG - A mother who left her young children at home alone in a filthy apartment while she went drinking has been sentenced to one year of house arrest.

Court heard the two kids were locked, naked, in separate rooms in November 2012.

Officers who went to the Winnipeg suite said it was covered in dog and cat feces and was infested with bedbugs and flies from a stack of dirty dishes.

An anonymous tip led police to the children, who remain in foster care.

The woman, who pleaded guilty to child abandonment, is also to serve a year of probation with a long list of conditions.

The Crown had argued during her sentencing hearing that the woman, who is 22, should spend six months in jail.

Court heard she made plans to celebrate her 21st birthday at a hotel bar and locked her children, who were two and four, in separate rooms in a Manitoba Housing suite.

Crown attorney Sharyl Thomas said anything could have happened to the children that night and the woman shouldn't be given a conditional sentence.

Defence lawyer Ian McNaught said the woman was young and had limited education.

Thomas outlined how Child and Family Services got an anonymous tip about the unsupervised kids and called police. Security let officers into the suite.

The children, one of whom is disabled, were checked out at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital. One was found to be anemic and the other had bedbug bites.

Thomas told the judge that the woman got word that police were at her home and went back to the suite. When police told her to stay away from the children, she returned to the bar.

That showed the woman's "absolute callous disregard for the welfare of her children,'' Thomas said.

The Crown acknowledged that the woman had made efforts to address her issues in the hope of getting her children back some day.

McNaught argued that the "naive and impressionable'' mom wasn't being callous by returning to the bar.

"She couldn't see the kids. She had nowhere else to go,'' the defence lawyer said.

"She didn't want to be in the house in the state that it was in, so she went back to the bar.''

McNaught agreed that it was a "stupid decision'' to go out that night, but he said the woman was nearing "the end of her rope'' caring for the kids and needed a break. She made efforts to find a babysitter but that fell through, he added.

He said social workers have been impressed with the woman's efforts to become a better parent.

(CJOB, The Canadian Press)