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Mother Jailed with Baby Celebrates Freedom With Champagne

January 16, 1990

HUDDERSFIELD, England (AP) _ A teen-age mother who was jailed with her infant daughter after pleading guilty to 10 theft charges celebrated her release Tuesday at a champagne reception.

″I only hope the future holds happiness for me,″ said Tracey Scott, 19, who had admitted she let friends walk out without paying for their goods at the Huddersfield supermarket where she worked as a cashier.

Court of Appeal judges on Monday suspended a six-month sentence given to Ms. Scott by Northern Circuit Court Judge James Pickles who said he wanted to deter women from getting pregnant to avoid jail.

Ms. Scott, who was not in court Monday, appeared at a brief hearing before the appeal judges in London on Tuesday and agreed to serve two years’ probation. Lord Lane, the lord chief justice, told her Pickles should have put her on probation rather than send her to jail.

He said Monday Pickles had been told before he sentenced Ms. Scott that two women he had jailed for stealing from the store had been freed on appeal. Yet, he said, Pickles insisted that for helping them ″to loot″ the store, Ms. Scott deserved a custodial sentence.

At a party given by neighbors in Huddersfield, 160 miles north of London, Ms. Scott said she wanted to see her lawyer before commenting on Pickles or the two weeks she spent in jail with her 3-month-old daughter, Alesha.

″It’s just great to be home,″ she said. ″The first thing I did was have a bath. It was wonderful.″

Ms. Scott said she did not know that she had won her appeal until she was in court Tuesday. Her attorney, Ken Green, said it was ″disgusting″ that no one told her she had won her appeal.

Green said she was very bitter toward Pickles. ″She hopes the highlighting of her case will direct attention to other mothers and babies who are in prison,″ he said.

Ms. Scott claimed Tuesday night that mothers were denied proper medical help for their sick babies at Styal women’s prison in Cheshire in northwest England, where she was jailed.

When she arrived at Styal, she said some of the babies there had been suffering from diarrhea for up to two weeks. She said a prison doctor had examined them and declared they were all right.

″Some of the mothers were hysterical,″ she said. ″Every feed for the sick babies was coming up - they couldn’t keep it down. The women were desperate for some outside medical help. They needed proper medical advice - it was worrying.″

A Home Office spokesman, who by custom was not identified, said it was not the department’s policy to discuss individual cases.

Pickles, 64, said he didn’t want the mother and child to be separated. He said that while he didn’t accuse Ms. Scott of getting pregant to avoid going to prison, he was afraid other women might get that idea.

Lord Lane said when he quashed the sentence that Pickles ″seems to us to have been concerned more with the public import of what he was doing and saying, rather than the justice of it.″

Pickles is one of Britain’s most outspoken judges and frequently draws controversy for his sentencing.

Last year, he jailed a woman who was too frightened to testify against a man accused of beating her up. In January, he opted for probation for a child molester, saying the man would have been picked on by bullies in prison and that the arrest and court appearance would likely have a chastening effect.

Pickles, a judge since 1976, insists he is humane. He twice delayed sentencing Ms. Scott until he was sure a place was available for her and the baby in youth custody, where conditions are less strict.

Pickles reportedly was out of the country on vacation and has declined to comment on the case.

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