Paranormal investigators carrying out a late-night visit to a mineshaft in Cornwall were shocked to find a real-life child wandering towards them, only partially dressed.
Truro Crown Court heard this morning that the group had been near Four Lanes on June 15 last year when they came across the girl, who was five years old at the time.
It was around 11.15pm that the child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, walked towards the group, wearing only a sun dress with bare legs, with a blanket wrapped around her, despite the night turning cold.
It was later suggested in court that her parents, both in their twenties, had planned to sleep down the mineshaft that night.
The family was on holiday from Essex at the time.
Both parents, who also cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared before the crown court this morning where they pleaded guilty to one charge of causing cruelty to a person under 16 years.
The father also admitted one charge of possession of cannabis.
The prosecutor in the case said that the girl approached the paranormal investigators, followed by her parents who were “clearly drunk or under the influence of drugs”, the mother almost falling into a mineshaft.
At around 11.45pm the group lost sight of the child and one of the party went to look for her, to check on her safety.
He found the couple drinking and the girl was running around.
The mother was then heard “screaming” allegations she had been attacked, said the prosecutor.
Other members of the group ran back and found the girl in the back seat of a car filled with rubbish and bags.
The police arrived and took the couple into custody, with the girl placed into police protection and later emergency foster care.
The court was told she was now living with a relative.
In the car police found bags of children’s clothes that were wet and smelled of urine, along with cannabis.
The car was later found to SWORN off the road and unroadworthy.
The prosecution said police subsequently found further logs, in which a member of the public in one had reported a young child running around in Boscastle car park in just her underwear at 10pm on June 11.
The couple told police they came to Cornwall camping but were on their way back to Essex.
Another call was from the manager of Helston Sainsbury’s, reporting the couple “having a heated domestic argument in store, in front of their child”, said the prosecutor.
Addressing the couple, Judge Robert Linford said having a child was a responsibility but both parents were “putting your own selfish desires to get drunk and stoned well above your concerns for the little girl.
“She was five years old, vulnerable.
“You both deserve to be, and should be, thoroughly ashamed as to how you have behaved to your own flesh and blood.”
Both parents were given a two-year community order, with the mother a rehabilitation requirement and the father to attend a ‘thinking skills’ programme.