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Parents allowed neglected children to live in squalor
TWO neglected young children lived in squalor with not enough food and surrounded by drug paraphernalia, a court heard.
And the back teeth of one had rotted away while the other child developed sight issues because their parents missed medical appointments.
Southampton Crown Court heard how the children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lived in a “chaotic” Southampton household where drug paraphernalia was on show and other addicts used the property to take illegal substances.
The court heard how police officers described the property as “dirty” in the bedrooms, found tools scattered around the living room, and noticed there was not enough food to cook “nutritious meals”.
Judge Gary Burrell QC said the parents had put their own drug use above the welfare of their children and handed them jail terms for offences of child neglect.
The neglect came to light after officers were called to reports of a father begging with two children, who were under the age of ten, outside a doorway in Above Bar Street in Southampton city centre late in the evening in June 2012.
Tabby Mears, prosecuting, said the man was waiting for money in his bank to clear at midnight when he would buy a takeaway for the children.
The concerned officers offered to drive the father and the children to their home.
It was here they found another man sleeping in the lounge.
She said it was clear to the police officers he was a drug user and found evidence of a white powder in a tray in front of him and blue tablets.
The man was arrested.
Ms Mears said officers found no carpeting on the stairs and tools scattered in the middle of the lounge.
The court heard how the police were called back to the house at around midnight that night to reports of no adults being present in the house where the two children were sleeping.
They discovered the backdoor was unlocked and found the children were asleep upstairs, where an officer noticed that there was a smell of urine in the bedroom and no clean clothing.
Ms Mears added the father returned to the property and said he went out to buy cigarettes at a nearby garage.
But he was arrested after officers could not trace the garage in question.
It became clear he was under the influence of Class A drugs when in the cells, the court heard.
His partner, the children’s mother, was subsequently arrested on charges of child neglect.
The court heard how the mother became hooked on drugs and alcohol while her partner was a habitual drug user.
Rebecca Fairbairn, defending the mother, said social services were in regular contact with the couple and had no cause for concern until arrest.
She said medication for bowel issues led to the rotting of one of the child’s back teeth due to its high sugar content.
Ms Fairbairn added the mother suffers from mental health issues, adding: “While this deserves a prison sentence and she said if she had looked from the outside she would say that this person deserves to go to prison. But she knows now she needs help.”
She previously pleaded guilty to four counts of neglect against a child under the age of 16, while the father pleaded guilty to two counts.
Sentencing the mother to 16 months in prison, Judge Burrell said: “You let your home to be used as a drug doss house where possible drug users would come in and consume hard drugs.
“I take the view of no option but to impose an immediate custodial sentence on you because, in the circumstances of this case, it’s the most appropriate outcome because it reflects society’s view of how serious these types of offences are and may protect further victims.”
The father was sentenced to four months in prison.