Gloucestershire child neglect couple not sentenced after overdosing

Gloucester Crown Court
Image caption The couple failed to turn up for sentencing at Gloucester Crown Court

A Gloucestershire couple who admitted neglecting their children have had their sentencing delayed after they took an overdose.

The pair, who can not be identified for legal reasons, failed to arrive at Gloucester Crown Court and were instead taken to hospital.

Nine children lived in filthy and unhygienic conditions. Mattresses were soiled and bedrooms smelt of urine and animal faeces, the court heard.

They will be now sentenced next week.

The court heard the couple cared for the children - all of them the mother's - but only the youngest three were fathered by her husband.

At an earlier hearing, the pair pleaded guilty to neglecting five children. Charges relating to the other four will lie on file.

'Severe nappy rash'

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.

After the youngest child was admitted to hospital with severe nappy rash, which had left ulcers on the skin, police arrested the couple.

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."

The pair had been due in court for sentencing on Thursday but a legal argument forced it to be postponed by 24 hours.

But they did not arrive and the court was told they had taken an overdose and were in hospital.

Judge Jamie Tabor said he had "no idea" whether the overdose was "attention seeking, sympathy seeking or a genuine attempt to take their lives."

"But I have to work on the basis that this was a genuine attempt to take their lives," he said.

A psychiatric team will now work with the couple to ensure no harm comes to them before sentencing next week.

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