Parents jailed over 'hell hole' for children

By Alistair Keely,Press Association
Thursday 19 December 2013 02:47

A mother and father who let their children live in a "hell hole" were today jailed for three years, police said.

The 26-year-old man and 24-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were jailed after pleading guilty to subjecting their children to "horrific" levels of cruelty, neglect and abuse.

The three children - two girls then aged four and one, and a boy aged three - were forced to live in abject conditions in their home in the York area between April and October 2008.

The alarm was raised after a member of the public complained to York Council about the dilapidated state of the outside of the couple's property, York Crown Court heard.

The authorities uncovered squalid conditions including festering rubbish piled high, rotting scraps of food and faeces and urine strewn all over the place.

The court was told the children were forced to share a soiled and stinking bed, and were found wearing nappies that had clearly not been changed for some time.

There were no signs of even the most basic standards of care and hygiene, the court was told.

The couple pleaded guilty to child cruelty charges and were sentenced at York Crown Court today.

Detective Constable Debbie Outwin, of the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit in York, led the child abuse investigation by North Yorkshire Police.

She said: "It is very satisfying that the couple have been brought to justice for the horrific conditions they forced upon their children.

"The way they subjected them to cruelty, neglect and abuse is truly shocking in this day and age.

"But as we have seen in other high-profile cases around the country, this type of abuse sadly continues nevertheless.

"It is a sad indictment on society, but it is one we must all wake up to and do everything we can to prevent it in the future.

"A small comfort that we can all take from this case, is that the children are now in an environment where they are flourishing and receiving the love, care and support they so desperately needed."

Ms Outwin likened the house to a rubbish tip.

She said: "The stench of the place was unbelievable. Even hardened officers who have visited countless unsavoury properties in their time, were knocked sick by the disgusting conditions.

"The only words to describe the house was a hell hole."

Detective Chief Inspector Lucy Pope, who oversees the force's Protecting Vulnerable Persons Units, praised the "outstanding" work of Ms Outwin and the multi-agency effort which included North Yorkshire Police and York Council.

She also commended the vigilance of the member of the public who enabled the initial intervention by the authorities.

"This case highlights the fact that the actions of one person, and one person alone, can make such a vital difference."

"If it wasn't for the member of the public who complained to the council about the mess of the property in question, the plight of these poor children may not have been uncovered until it was too late.

"People living in communities really do need to look out for each other. And if something is amiss or is a cause for concern, then the matter must be reported to the relevant authorities such as the council or the police as a matter of urgency."

Jane Cook, Crown Prosecution Service senior prosecutor, added: "This is one of the most distressing cases of child neglect I have ever dealt with.

"It is patently obvious that the degrading conditions in which the children were existing were truly appalling, causing them unnecessary suffering and exposure to illness and injury, including developmental problems.

"We have worked closely with North Yorkshire Police throughout the investigation and it is some small satisfaction to see that justice has been served today and that the perpetrators are facing the consequences of their appalling behaviour."