TWO children were abandoned by their mum and left to live in squalor for up to a year, a court heard.

When the youngsters were discovered, the house was full of mouldy saucepans containing rotten food, half full wine bottles, animal excrement, rotting mattresses stained with animal urine and torn wallpaper. Although it is not known how long the children were left on their own, it could have been going on for up to a year, a court was told.

The teenagers, aged 14 and 15 at the time, were found by ambulance crews in conditions described as “utterly squalid”, while their 42-year-old mother was living 15 minutes away with her boyfriend, the court heard.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is today beginning an eightmonth jail sentence. Judge Richard Price said: “She abandoned her children leaving them quite literally to wallow in their own filth.”

Describing the defendant as callous and cruel, he added: “You don’t seem to understand the long term psychological damage you have done to these children. “You cannot have failed to see the mess that the house was in, you couldn’t fail to appreciate how dangerous that was, you couldn’t have failed to appreciate how your children were suffering – what did you do about that? Nothing.”

James Kellam, prosecuting, described how the children’s circumstances, at a property in Fareham, were discovered on September 1 last year after the boy, 14, dialled 999 for an ambulance because he was concerned for his sister’s health. She was complaining of headaches and he thought she had meningitis.

The ambulance crew was so concerned they did not want to leave them there, he said. The children were described as dirty and smelly and the boy was infested with head lice, the court heard.

Mr Kellam told Portsmouth Crown Court that social services were informed and the children were taken into care. They are now living with other family members.

He said: “This is a situation which has deteriorated rather than suddenly becoming one where there was complete abandonment. “The period the defendant spent away from home grew longer and longer and may well have started as brief.” “She said she was regularly at the house. Suffering depression “She asked the children to clean up and they wouldn’t and because they didn’t she wouldn’t.”

The defendant pleaded guilty to two charges of cruelty to a person under 16. Chris Stopa, mitigating, said any requests with the children to do something got no response and the defendant had no help from the children’s father. “What she did was distance herself from what was going on at the house because it was too difficult to deal with – that of course shouldn’t happen, she now understands that. She would come back and check what the position was, as it got worse and worse her ability to do anything about it became less and less.”

He said one of the children still wanted to live with the mother. The defendant was suffering with depression and there was a suggestion that she had been drinking a lot.