A FOSTER carer has compared the appearance of two young girls at the centre of an alleged neglect case, as similar to that of someone who had been in a concentration camp.
The woman, who has cared for more than 60 children during her fostering career, told a court of her distress after seeing the two girls for the first time after they were allegedly neglected by their parents.
She told jurors at Southampton Crown Court that when the seven-year-old and three-year-old arrived in her care they “looked like they had just come out of Belsen.”
The carer appeared to give evidence in a trial for the girls’ parents who are accused of cruelty through neglect and cannot be identified for legal reasons.
She told the court that it was the worst case of a child moving into care she had seen with the seven-year-old and it was “extremely distressing” to see.
The jury was told that the pair struggled with toileting issues with the eldest girl soiling herself regularly without realising as well as finding it difficult to cope with her emotions.
It comes after the foster mother, who gave evidence by video link, told the court that the eldest girl had so many head lice that the bath “looked like an oil slick” and it took four days to get them all out of her hair.
She told the court that after a year in her care the eldest girl “let her emotions out” and on one occasion was found crawling to curl up “like a dog” in the corner.
The foster mother said: “To see a little girl so distressed is horrendous, it was so distressing for us to see a little girl so upset. I have looked after a lot of children and this was the worst I have seen and I’ve had some bad cases.”
The children were taken into care in the summer of 2014 after the alarm was raised for suspected neglect by staff at a Hampshire school at the end of 2013.
Previously medical professionals have said it was the worst case of head lice they had seen in their 30-year career and the eldest girl was also malnourished had scabies, severely matted hair, dead nits embedded in her skin, an iron deficiency and an infection caused by the lice - a teacher also told the court she “smelt like rotten meat.”
The younger girl had rotten teeth and also had a serious case of head lice.
Since being taken into care the foster mother said they have both improved, developing more healthy complexions and drinking water rather than just sugary drinks.
She told jurors: “There’s been an incredible difference and you would not know they are the same children now.”
The court also heard how the mother of the two girls had used the Sure Start centre for support and advice and from 2006 till 2013 she used the service 560 times, including to seek help for her youngest daughter’s teeth.
As previously reported by the Daily Echo, the parents told police that they were trying to sort out problems with the older sister’s head, and denied that they had fallen short in their responsibilities.
The 43-year-old woman and 47-year-old man both deny two charges of child cruelty through wilful ill treatment or neglect.