Gloucestershire child neglect couple jailed
A couple jailed for neglecting five of their children have been branded "inadequate, stupid, stubborn and reckless" by a judge.
Nine children lived in bedrooms that smelled of urine and animal faeces and mattresses were soiled, Gloucester Crown Court heard.
The pair from Gloucestershire were due to be sentenced last week but this was delayed after they took an overdose.
The mother was sentenced to two years nine months; the father for two years.
Mayonnaise on lice
At an earlier hearing, the pair pleaded guilty to neglecting five children, between 2007 and 2012. The ages of the children ranged from a baby to a young teenager.
Charges relating to the other four will lie on file.
The children were reported as often being dirty and smelly and suffered badly with head lice infestations, which the mother told police she had treated with mayonnaise.
It was after the youngest child was admitted to hospital with severe nappy rash, which had left ulcers on the child's skin, that police arrested the couple.
When officers searched the house they found it in an unhygienic state.
Carpets and walls were filthy, rubbish and clothes were strewn everywhere and a plug socket was left hanging out of the wall.
In a child's bedroom, ivy had come in from outside and was growing across the wall.
Judge Tabor said of the couple: "They are not wicked and they did not deliberately inflict pain and suffering upon their children...
"In short the degree of neglect was so high and so prolonged that the margin between reckless neglect and deliberate cruelty narrows to a perceptible but very small margin."
Speaking to the BBC before sentencing the father said there had been "a range of failing on my behalf, on my wife's behalf", but also claimed "social services let us down in a big way"...
"I hope they [social services] learn a lot from this case and they don't let this happen again.
"[The children] are very upset they're away from their mother and father.... As a parent it's completely broken me," he added.
Roger Clayton, chairman of Gloucestershire Children Safeguarding Board, said the neglect the children suffered was "unacceptable".
He added: "I'm pleased that because action has been taken the children are now safe and doing well, and their parents have been successfully prosecuted."
A serious case review will now take place.
Det Insp Katy Miles from Gloucestershire Police said: "This was the most horrific case of child neglect the team has dealt with.
"It's hard to imagine how any parent could just sit back and let their children live in such squalor but that's what happened.
"When they were challenged they were obstructive and didn't understand what they had done wrong - now they must live with the consequences.
"There are no winners but I'm pleased to say that since the children have moved into a caring and loving environment they have shown encouraging signs of improvement and their future is bright again."