Mum kept children locked up in squalor

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A CRUEL mum kept her children locked in their bedrooms and only let them out to go to school.

The woman – who was getting £350 a week in benefits – fed her four children crisps for breakfast and snacks for tea.

Despite admitting four charges of child cruelty, she yesterday walked free from court.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the kitchen at the house in Sunderland was used as an out-of-bounds toilet for two dogs and had no working fridge.

The state of the “filthy” conditions was only exposed when a shocked family friend called round and found one of the dog’s rotting remains in the kitchen.

Prosecutor Bridie Smurthwaite told the court: “On arrival, there was a horrendous smell at the premises and an indescribable sight in which the remains of the dog were scattered all over the kitchen.

“The second dog was described as extremely malnourished and died later that evening.”

The oldest of the four children, aged from one to 14, were spoken to about their plight. It was discovered the two middle children would be kept locked in their rooms.

Miss Smurthwaite said: “The oldest child said he never went into the kitchen because of the mess. The fridge was broken because the flex had been chewed by the dogs.

“He said the dogs were kept in the kitchen, chewing wires and causing mess and essentially the family stopped using it.

“The children weren’t allowed in and they would live on fast food takeaways.

“He said two of his younger siblings were locked in their rooms to prevent them leaving, and the mother would take them food.

“He said they were in their rooms 24 hours a day if they weren’t at school, living in constant mess.”

The mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her children, told police “everything is left on my shoulders” and said apart from locking two of her children in their rooms they were “fed, clean and dressed.”

She went on to admit the child cruelty charges.

Her ex-partner, who had been living with her, admitted two charges in relation to the children who got locked in their rooms.

Judge Guy Whitburn sentenced the mother, who has her children living with her in a different property with “safeguards” in place with social services, to a community order for two years.

The judge had viewed pictures taken inside the squalid home.

He told her: “Anyone who reads the description of what greeted the gentleman who came in to clean up would have one’s stomach turn.

“You were in receipt of benefits, you had enough to run the household, to feed those children properly and you didn’t.

“I’m of the view you require help.”

The woman’s partner was sentenced to 26 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

The judge told him: “You knew those children were living in conditions of utmost squalor and you did nothing about it.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho