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article imageBritish Man Jailed for Giving Cigarette to 3-Year-Old Girl

By Chris Dade     Oct 15, 2009 in Crime
A 31-year-old man from the Northeast of England has been jailed for 18 months after admitting that he gave a 3-year-old girl a cigarette to smoke.
Graeme Conroy, from Ashington, a town 15 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, admitted an offense of willfully ill-treating, neglecting or exposing a child in a manner likely to cause suffering or injury to health after an incident in February during which he not only gave the unnamed 3-year-old girl a cigarette to smoke but also encouraged a 14-year-old girl to capture the incident with her mobile phone (cellphone) camera.
Conroy, whose relationship, if any, to the young girl has not been disclosed, was brought to justice after a neighbor reported what had happened to the police. Reuters reports that it was a 16-year-old girl, a witness to the incident, who alerted the police but other reports, including that in the Guardian, simply refer to a neighbor as having contacted the authorities.
As the Irish News confirms at one stage there were fears that the cigarette given to the child contained cannabis, a reference to the drug having been made during the filming of the incident. However tests on the girl's hair found no trace of the drug.
The 16-year-old witness explained that the girl gave the impression of having smoked even before she was given a cigarette by Conroy, who could be heard laughing whilst the 3-year-old was smoking and gave the youngster a second cigarette when she became upset after smoking the first one, on February 24.
Indeed Prosecutor Tony Glover confirmed that the girl had smoked two cigarettes before the witness arrived and was observed smoking three more cigarettes after the arrival of the teenager.
Defense lawyer for Conroy was Jane Foley and regarding her client's actions she said:His behaviour was irresponsible and he clearly didn't give sufficient thought to what he was doing, believing it to be a bit of a joke. Clearly it's not funny. To anyone hearing the circumstances of the offence they would be appalled to hear that a three-year-old girl was permitted to smoke this cigarette. He has accepted his responsibility at the earliest opportunity
Sentencing Conroy to 18 months in jail Judge David Wood told him, and those assembled at the Crown Court in Newcastle:You evidently thought it would be funny if she was allowed to smoke cigarettes and you could take a video of what was going on. I expect you realise now this was not funny at all. This sort of conduct could be very damaging to a child's health and could have all sorts of effects upon her future health. You have completely disregarded her safety and endangered her
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