Dad dumps kids in McDonalds car park to play pokies
There were no Happy Meals for two young girls who were left to fend for themselves after their father abandoned them at a McDonald's car park.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, left his daughters at the fast food restaurant on Queen St in Ayr to play the pokies at the nearby Coutts Commercial Hotel.
The Townsville Magistrates Court heard the two girls aged nine and 11 were dropped at McDonald's at 11.35pm on January 30 this year.
Police prosecutor Tim Madsen told the court the McDonald's was only open to drive-through patrons at the time.
"He left them there to keep themselves busy while he went to play poker machines and couldn't even be bothered to make sure the restaurant was actually open so they could physically go in," he said.
A concerned member of the public called the police to report the abandoned girls in the car park.
When police rescued the girls they were not wearing any shoes and were not dressed appropriately for the weather conditions.
The court heard the girls told the officers they had been unfed and that "it wasn't out of the ordinary to be left unattended by their father".
Since the man had been taken into custody the young girls had been staying with a close friend in Townsville.
The man was caught with cannabis seeds on February 10 this year and was also caught drug driving on March 6 with tests returning a positive result for methamphetamine.
The man pleaded guilty to 14 charges including leaving a child under 12 unattended, possession of a dangerous drug and offence of driving while relevant drug is present in blood or saliva.
Defence solicitor Phil Rennick told the court his client had been the sole carer for his daughters for the past 18 months.
Mr Rennick said the man was an ex-navy marine technician and had started using ice after the death of his younger brother.
"He is much happier off the drugs and can't wait to get out (of jail) and get working again and look after his two girls," he said.
Magistrate Cathy Wadley told the man his behaviour was "serious". Ms Wadley took into account the 63 days spent in pre-sentence custody and sentenced the man to nine months' jail wholly suspended for three years with an immediate release.
Convictions were recorded.
Originally published as Dad dumps kids in McDonalds car park to play pokies