A drink driver who crashed into several cars with her baby on board has been spared jail after a judge took pity on her for being "neglected" by social services.

Melody Dyer, 22, drove erratically along Winchester Road in Highams Park, smashing into several parked vehicles before slamming her Ford Focus into an on-coming car in Fulbourne Road, Walthamstow.

Dyer then grabbed her daughter and tried to run off, but was stopped by an off-duty police officer.

The crash caused extensive damage but fortunately no-one was seriously injured.

When police arrived she refused to take a breath test but smelled strongly of alcohol and had difficulty standing up following the collisions, which happened at around 6.30pm on November 17 last year.

Dyer only had a provisional driving licence and was not insured.

Phillipa Page, defending for Dyer, said she had been suffering serious post natal depression.

Only months earlier she went to social services for help but was turned away, the court heard.

Ms Paged said: "Her current social worker says it is inconceivable to him that she was turned away when she presented herself in that state".

The judge, Mr Recorder Peter Kyte QC, said he was impressed that Dyer had since turned her life around despite "neglect" from social services.

Dyer is now receiving treatment from a number of charities and has enrolled at college.

Suspending her sentence, the judge said: "In normal circumstances these matters would attract a sentence of imprisonment numbering in years.

"But you are only 22-years-old, and you have evidently had a very unhappy childhood and early adulthood."

He added: "It would be a person of steel who would not feel some considerable sympathy for your cause.

"But I must warn you, if you ever come back before the court for something like this, you will get hammered for it, to use the vernacular."

He sentenced her to 12 months imprisonment for dangerous driving and six months for child cruelty. Both sentences were suspended for two years.

Dyer, of Eden Road, Walthamstow, also received a three-year driving ban for two counts of failing to give samples for analysis, driving without a licence, driving without insurance and driving away from the scene of an accident.

She pleaded guilty to all charges.