Couple jailed for locking their son in coal bunker

A mother and stepfather who forced their 11-year-old son to live in a filthy converted coal bunker have each been jailed for two years.

Bullied and constantly hungry, the traumatised boy was made to live and sleep in the room, described as a "cell" by social workers, and reduced to using a potty as he was locked up each night. The rubbish-strewn room had no heating, a bare lightbulb, and concrete walls and floor, with the child left to sleep on a dirty mattress.

The couple in their 40s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, both admitted a single charge of cruelty by wilful neglect between January 2010 and January 2011 at an earlier hearing at Preston Crown Court.

Sentencing, Judge Norman Wright told them: "This was a flagrant abuse of power and a gross breach of trust."

He added: "The room has been described as a cell but it seems to me it was akin to a prison cell from a Third World country, not the home of an 11- or 12-year-old living in this century in this country."

The boy was put in the room as punishment for raiding the family's fridge, the couple told police after their arrest. The room was a windowless old outhouse with one exit bricked up and a new one added leading to the lounge of the family home in Blackpool.

The child lived there between the ages of 11 and 12 before his school became concerned as he was always hungry in class. Police and social workers visited the house and he was placed in foster care.

Judge Wright said the psychological harm to the boy "will be unknown", adding: "It is bound, in my judgement, to be profound."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project