Shocking photo shows room smeared in faeces where toddlers were 'locked in' at Derbyshire home
This shocking photo shows a bedroom smeared in faeces in which two Derbyshire toddlers were 'locked in'.
The image has been released by the Crown Prosecution Service after the father of the two youngsters, aged two and three, was jailed.
The toddlers were found covered in sores and infested with head lice when they were rescued by shocked social workers.
Their father and his wife, who have not been named in order to protect the children, have admitted neglect. The man, in his 40s, was jailed for 29 months at Derby Crown Court on Monday, while the woman has yet to be sentenced.
The children were saved when a concerned neighbour living in a flat above the family called police.
Officers and social workers attended the property and found the children wearing torn T-shirts with faeces between their toes as well as having cuts on their hands. They also had sores on their bodies and blisters and reddening of their legs from being kept in a cold environment. A makeshift punishment cell was also discovered in which the children would be placed when they were crying.
The court heard the "experienced" social worker was immediately hit by a "strong smell of faeces" when she opened the child's room. 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, who has not been named, 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." She had called the police and said that at no point did the dad show any shame or remorse for the state of the children 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". The children are now in foster care.
Sonal Ahya, defending 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."
Jailing the dad, Judge Jonathan Bennett paid tribute to the family's neighbour who called police. He 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 added 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 dad 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. He said: "It was, in my view, sadistic. 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."
Following the case, an NSPCC spokesman said: "No child should have to suffer sickening neglect like this, and it is absolutely vital that we are all alert to the signs that a child needs help. "This truly shocking case was brought to light when a neighbour reported their concerns. "We would urge anyone in this situation to speak out without hesitation, as it could save a child from serious harm."