Boy, 4, found in East Lancs animals horror house

4:00pm Friday 4th April 2014

By Jessica Cree

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy found in ‘absolute squalor’ at a house with 20 uncaged ferrets and 14 dogs needed treatment in a hospital’s high dependency unit.

The youngster, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was discovered on a mattress by a police officer at the house in East Lancashire, which also had two dead birds in cages.

A court heard how the child had been living in appalling conditions for two months, with rubbish, rancid food and animal faeces on the floor.

His mother was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for neglecting her son.

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PC Lloyd Jones who found the boy said the conditions were ‘the worst he had ever seen’, the court was told.

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He had only been visiting the house as part of an investigation about a missing dog.

But when he went into the property, he found the youngster, who had a condition which meant he needed a feeding tube to his stomach, with a serious bacterial infection to an open wound on his torso.

The boy was taken immediately to the high dependency unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital for treatment.

Judge Anthony Russell QC, the recorder at Preston Crown Court, said it was a ‘bad example’ of this type of case.

He said: “The neglect was over a period of two months and appears to have commenced when you moved from one home to another.

“The child is only able to take food through a gastric tube. You lived alone with him and a very large number of animals.

“The police called at your home about a missing dog and came across a scene of absolute squalor.

“The house was filthy with rubbish, food stuffs and animal faeces everywhere.

“I have seen the photographs and it is shocking that anyone can let a house get into that state.

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“An experienced police officer described the conditions as the worst he had ever seen.”

Judith McCullough, defending, told the court her client, 21, had been suffering from depression.

She said: “The circumstances in which she found herself were escalating and worsening as time went on and of course, in addition also had a child who required more care than perhaps some other children may have done.

“She accepts that she failed to care for him in the way she ought to have done.

“She has shown genuine remorse and she picked herself up by the bootstraps and has made efforts to move forward.

“She is well aware she might receive a custodial sentence and has written a letter to her son to be read to him if it is the case.

“There will be no repeat of this behaviour. That does not mean she is not a young woman who clearly requires support and to examine what went wrong during the last part of last year.”

But Judge Russell told the defendant, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of child neglect at an earlier hearing: “Although it has been argued that there was a lack of support available to you, I do not accept that argument because you had previously had support and knew it was available.

“I do accept that you have had a difficult history. I also accept that you now acknowledge that your care was inadequate.

“Such mitigation cannot extinguish the fact that this was very serious neglect.”

Speaking after the hearing, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Cases like this which involve the ill-treatment of young children are always very hard to deal with, but we welcome this sentence.

“This was a particularly appalling case of child neglect involving a vulnerable four-year-old boy who was living in truly shocking conditions.

“The house was in a completely uninhabitable state for anyone, let alone a small child, and thankfully he is now being looked after properly.”

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