A child’s bedroom found smeared in faeces is thought to have been used as a “cell” to lock two toddlers inside at a home in Derby.
The young children – aged almost two and three-years-old – were discovered using grunts and “primal scream” noises to communicate, with “car” as the only word in their volcabulary.
The Derby Telegraph reports that the toddlers were also found covered in sores on their bodies and faeces between their toes and in cuts on their hands and feet.
Derby Crown Court heard yesterday that when the children were later examined, they were also found to have head lice infestations – and blisters and reddening of their legs from being kept in a cold environment.
Their parents – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – have pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect and the father, whose actions the judge called “sadistic”, was jailed for 29 months.
The mother is yet to be sentenced.
The “experienced” social worker, who found the children following a call from a neighbour, said – as soon as she opened the door to the child’s room – she was immediately hit by a “strong smell of faeces”.
Inside was a single toddler’s bed with a “disgustingly dirty mattress”; the curtains were ripped and covered in faeces; there were handprints in faeces over the walls; and faeces on the ceiling.
The social worker said to use the words “disgusting and vile” was to do those words a disservice.
There were also tiles on the floor that had been pulled up, exposing sharp edges, and some dirty cars but no other toys and two dirty baby bottles.
She said: “I remember being horrified and shocked. I couldn’t understand how a room could be like this, how we didn’t know of this family.”
The social worker had called the police and said that at no point did the dad show any shame or remorse for the state of the children – found dressed in nappies and T-shirts – or the bedroom.
The court heard that he had put most of the blame on his wife and the eldest son.
A doctor who examined the children, once they had been rescued, said they showed signs of “significant neglect” and that they had been in a cold environment from some time.
They also displayed “developmental delay”.
Jailing the father, who is in his 40s, Judge Jonathan Bennett said the officer who attended the incident felt “sickened” that the children had been allowed in such a room and, spotting a latch on the outside of the door, believed it had been used as a cell.
The court heard that the alerting phone call had been from a man who lived in a flat above the family.
Judge Bennett said: “It alarmed him that the children never went out and were constantly crying at night.
“And, when he went out one day, he heard a child crying behind the door and when he came back an hour later, the child was still crying.”
The judge said it was interesting that, while the bedroom had been unclean and dangerous, the fridge had been full, there were new toys and clothes in their wrappers and the kitchen and living room had been tidy.
He said: “It does not have the hallmarks you see in so many of these tragic cases, where parents are completely unable to cope.
“Furthermore you were obsessed by the bad behaviour of your older child. You said to the police officer you felt sorry for whoever was going to look after him.”
Judge Bennett said the defendant had demonstrated a “callous attitude” to his children, by the conditions they had both had to live in and by starving them of affection and love.
“It was, in my view, sadistic,” he said.
“This was, in my view, serious-ill treatment.
“It was for a two-month period but, in my view, two months for those two children in those conditions is protracted.
“We’ll never know the harm that has been caused to them.”
Sonal Ahya, for the father, said: “His wife was effectively bedbound and didn’t leave the room and he was caring for her and the children – he failed miserably.
“It was a two-month period and it’s on a basis he was struggling to cope because of the family dynamic over that time.”
The children are now in foster care.