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Family Law

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26 JUN 2009

Parents sent to prison for subjecting their children to squalor

A 26-year-old man and 24-year-old woman, who cannot be identified, have been sentenced to three years' imprisonment at York Crown Court.

They had both pleaded guilty to three charges of wilfully assaulting, ill treating, neglecting, abandoning or exposing the children in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

The three children - two girls then aged four and one, and a boy aged three - were forced to live in abject conditions in their home in the Clifton area of York between April and October 2008.

It wasn't until a member of the public complained to City of York Council about the dilapidated state of the outside of the couple's property, that the extremely squalid conditions inside were uncovered by the authorities.

Police and social service officials were horrified with what they discovered: festering rubbish piled high, rotting scraps of food and faeces and urine strewn all over the place.

The children were forced to share a soiled and stinking bed, and were found wearing nappies that had not been changed for some time.

DC Debbie Outwin, of the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit in York, who led the child abuse investigation by North Yorkshire Police said: "It is very satisfying that the couple have been brought to justice for the horrific conditions they forced upon their children.

"The way they subjected them to cruelty, neglect and abuse is truly shocking in this day and age. But as we have seen in other high-profile cases around the country, this type of abuse sadly continues nevertheless. It is a sad indictment on society, but it is one we must all wake up to and do everything we can to prevent it in the future."

DC Outwin added: "A small comfort that we can all take from this case, is that the children are now in an environment where they are flourishing and receiving the love, care and support they so desperately needed."

On entering the house, DC Outwin likened it to a rubbish tip. She said: "The stench of the place was unbelievable. Even hardened officers who have visited countless unsavoury properties in their time, were knocked sick by the disgusting conditions.

"The only words to describe the house was a hell hole."

Jane Cook, Crown Prosecution Service Senior Prosecutor, added: "This is one of the most distressing cases of child neglect I have ever dealt with. It is patently obvious that the degrading conditions in which the children were existing were truly appalling, causing them unnecessary suffering and exposure to illness and injury, including developmental problems."

A family court hearing will be held later this year to decide the children's long-term future."

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