A pair of parents have admitted to four counts of child neglect after police discovered a home full of starved toddlers in Preston, Lancashire. This gruesome case of child neglect featured four children, all under the age of five, found in nothing but nappies and/or T-shirts, wandering the home with an array of skin ailments, illnesses and rashes. Scrounging around in empty food packets, these children were so hungry and thirsty that they were described as “like zombies” by the disgusted policemen that discovered the grisly scene.
Due to the age of the children involved, the names of the parents cannot be revealed, but the father of the toddlers has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for his role in the incident. At Preston Crown Court, a judge heard the awful conditions that these youngsters were forced to endure in this shocking case of child abuse.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this child neglect case is that it was stumbled upon by accident. The judge at Preston Crown Court heard that the revolting conditions were first discovered in October 2015, while the police were investigating an unrelated incident, looking for a third party who might have known one of the parents of the home.
When visiting the household, the officers were overwhelmed by the stench of excrement, leaving some of the officers retching repeatedly. One young girl was found screaming while trapped underneath a bed frame, and the entire residence was covered in faeces and flies.
Two toddlers sat starved and malnourished in a home full of soiled bedding and exposed carpet rods, while another sat mere inches from a halogen lamp, clothed in nothing but an overfilled nappy. At the centre of this horrific scene were the parents; the mother of the children, aged 29, was crying and shaking violently, while their father sat calmly beside her.
As Amanda Hatton, who is the children’s services director at Lancashire County Council explained to the court, the children were set to be relocated before family courts ruled against it, and now will be placed in the hands of other family members.
“The family were referred to the local authority for the first time when the police initially visited the property. At that point we secured placements for the children outside the family home. We put this matter before a Family Court and recommended that the children be looked after away from the family home with extended family as their permanent placement.
However, the Family Court did not agree with this position and the children were placed back in the care of their parents with the local authority undertaking close monitoring of the case. We are now working with extended family members to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of the children.”
The father of the four children, aged 23, has been sentenced to four months in prison, but it appears that his partner, 29, was not mentally able to take care of the children, and has been handed a two-year suspended sentence on the condition that she undergoes rehabilitation.
Detective Constable Lee Bradshaw-Wood of Lancashire Police condemned the parents, who admitted to four counts of child neglect, saying that there was an “abject failure to provide basic care for such young, vulnerable children.”
“The investigation established the feral and dangerous conditions that these poor children were living in. The living accommodation was disgusting and unsafe and the children were dirty and their clothing was inadequate. No child should have to live in those conditions.
We are committed to working, along with our partner agencies, to ensure that all children in Lancashire are kept safe from harm. If anyone has concerns around the safety of a child or young person, they should contact us or Lancashire Social Services. Information can also be passed anonymously via the NSPCC.”
The judge presiding over the case, Mark Brown, had the final word on the incident, and criticised local authorities for allowing the abuse to continue for so long, calling the case a “deplorable and appalling state of affairs”. Child protective services work around the clock to ensure that no case of child abuse goes unpunished, but this was one instance where actions were taken too late. I hope that these four tots make a full recovery, and are able to live a normal life in a well-adjusted household.