DIFFERENT agencies are “squabbling” over who should take charge of an “exceptionally vulnerable” woman who ran off with a child, a court heard.
Alicia Steward, 23, was due to be sentenced today (July 12) at Hull Crown Court after admitting abducting the baby boy from his mother from the foyer of Hull Royal Infirmary last December.
Steward, who had been discharged on the day of the incident from the Avondale mental health unit, was pursued by a prison officer and others, who detained her in the car park.
But Hull Crown Court was told that Wakefield Adult Social Care was responsible for carrying out a social care assessment, but had not done so, and in any case would not provide her with a roof over her head.
Derbyshire County Council would only provide a “signposting assessment”, not accommodation.
The court heard that had Steward – who is currently held at New Hall prison in Wakefield – been released, the emergency but “very unsatisfactory” plan was for probation officers to take her to the local housing department, declare she was homeless and vulnerable and wait for a place to be found.
Judge Mark Bury said it was “somewhat unedifying to read that the various organisations are squabbling about whose job it is to look after her”.
He added: “There’s no question of releasing her until there is a proper support package in place and at the moment there isn’t.”
He said Steward was “at risk of harm to herself first and foremost and it can’t be overlooked that she could be at risk of harm to others”.
She had been increasingly anxious as the day of her release approached, Hull Crown Court heard.
Steward, of no fixed address, was being “well looked after” and was “content” at New Hall, probation officer Mark Sambrook said.
Judge Bury told Steward that she would need a psychiatric assessment as a next step, adding: “We need to work out what is best for you to keep you from committing any more crimes and for your long-term rehabilitation.”
Told she had to return to court on August 24, Steward replied: “That’s fine, sir.”