Parents who neglected five children take overdose before court hearing

Their children in Gloucestershire were malnourished and had lice and fleas

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The Independent Online

Parents whose five neglected children were found malnourished, unwashed and infested with lice and fleas have taken an overdose before a court hearing.

The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were due to be sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday when they were admitted to hospital.

Steve Young, a barrister for the defence, said they were “not fit to be sentenced”, the Gloucester Citizen reported.

“They are not so seriously ill that there are still concerns for their lives,” he added.

Sentencing has been delayed until Monday and the couple will receive care from a psychiatric team over the weekend.

Judge Jamie Tabor told the court it could have been a suicide attempt, the BBC reported.

He said: “I have no idea whether this is attention seeking, sympathy seeking or just people that are desperate.

“But I have got work on the basis this is a genuine attempt to take their lives and I am concerned about the weekend.”

The court previously heard that the couple left five children – three fathered by the husband - in squalor from 2007 to 2012.

They pleaded guilty to neglect at an earlier hearing and charges relating to four more children will lie on file.

The siblings, aged up to 14, were shunned by other children at school because they smelled so badly and one teacher was unable to bear being near one of the girls, the Gloucester Citizen reported.

Teachers, doctors and social workers were aware of the problems but the mother failed to keep appointments and follow instructions.

The children were taken away from their parents in November 2012 after a young girl was admitted to hospital with severe nappy rash and the scale of the neglect was revealed.

Police visiting the home found their bedrooms stinking of urine and animal faeces, with dirty clothing on the floors and stale food in the kitchen.

Two children old enough to be toilet-trained were still in nappies and the mother tried to treat head lice with mayonnaise, the court heard.

Ahead of their sentencing, the father told the BBC: “We did let our children down. We never stopped loving our children, but we did let them down.

"Not in a neglectful way but in a way of development and growing up."