ABU DHABI // The mother of a three-year-old girl who died after falling from a fifth-floor balcony has been issued a second suspended one-month jail term for negligence.
The Egyptian toddler, Maryam, fell to her death on January 31 after climbing the balcony railing at her family's apartment on Airport Road. Neither of her parents were home at the time, while an aunt in the home at the time was asleep. Both parents were charged with negligence, but only the mother was convicted at the Abu Dhabi Misdemeanours Court of First Instance last week.
The sentence is in addition to suspended one-month terms both parents received for their negligence in an incident weeks before the child's death in which police prevented Maryam from falling from the same balcony. Police broke into the apartment after spotting Maryam's legs dangling. On that occasion, Maryam had been all alone with both her parents at work.
Though the railings of the balcony are about 1.5 metres high, police said the girl was able to climb on objects located near the balcony before her fatal fall. It was not clear if the sliding doors to the balcony had been left open at the time.
A neighbour said both parents were hysterical when they arrived at the scene and that Maryam's father had to be taken away in an ambulance after he fainted.
Hamid Moidu, the building's watchman, said he ran up to the flat after seeing the girl fall. The aunt was "crying and screaming", he said.
The family moved into the building about four years ago and Maryam was often seen in the area on walks with her father.
Mr Moidu said the family did not have any other children. "She was a very nice little baby, very pretty," he added.
Following Maryam's death, police emphasised that parents were expected by law to make all efforts necessary to protect their children and said that parents would be prosecuted if evidence proved they had neglected their children or left them unattended.
Endangering the life of a child under 15 can attract a penalty of between one month and two years in prison. The penalty can increase to three years if the child is left unattended.