EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 18, 2013

Plaistow mother avoids trial in abuse case

BRENTWOOD — Less than two weeks before her trial, a Plaistow mother has pleaded guilty to failing to protect her young son from abuse.

Jessica Linscott, 24, was sentenced Tuesday in Rockingham Superior Court to two-and-a-half to seven years in state prison.

Linscott, who appeared in court for a pretrial conference, wasn’t scheduled to plead guilty. But Linscott and her attorney told Judge Marguerite Wageling she wanted to take responsibility for what happened to her then 3-year-old son, according to Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid.

The child, now 4, was beaten and burned in November, spending three weeks in Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. Linscott’s boyfriend, Roland Dow, 27, of Plaistow, faces trial in September on charges he abused the child.

The couple received national attention when they were arrested at Universal Studios in Florida last fall following a two-week manhunt. They had dropped the child off at Exeter Hospital before fleeing.

The couple agreed to surrender to police, but hid in Haverhill. They went to Boston, took a bus to New York and boarded a train to Florida.

Linscott, held on $100,000 cash bail, pleaded guilty to a felony witness tampering charge and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, Reid said.

If convicted at trial, Linscott faced three and a half to seven years in prison for witness tampering and a total of up to a year in jail on the four endangerment counts.

She received a suspended one-year sentence for the four counts. The only contact she has been allowed with her son, James, is through letters. The boy is a ward of the state and has been living with his maternal grandmother,

While Linscott’s plea wasn’t expected, it was not a complete surprise either, Reid said.

“Early on, she expressed remorse and regret for what happened and for failing to protect her child,” he said yesterday. “She cooperated with the investigators.”

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