A Penzance mother who allowed her sons to live in “Dickensian squalor” has been jailed for two years.
The 46-year-old mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had previously admitted to neglecting her two children so badly that they became morbidly obese, their teeth were left to rot and they were covered in filth and sores.
She had initially denied two counts of wilful neglect, but changed her pleas to guilty a day and a half into her trial at Truro Crown Court last month.
Sentencing her today at the same court, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, said: “In my judgement this is a very bad case. You have proved to be a totally inadequate, incompetent and possibly uncaring mother.
“You may have loved your sons but the way you brought them up is almost unimaginable ... By the middle of June your two sons were living in deplorable conditions of Dickensian squalor.”
The charges against the Penzance mother related to a 15 month period between March 2009 and June 2010.
Judge Harvey told the court that the boys were in long term care and that both were now “healthy energetic children who are now a normal weight”.
Alistair Verheijen, for the Crown Prosecution Service, had previously told the court that when the children were taken into foster care in June 2010 they had been found to be in a poor state of health.
“They turned up in their school uniform,” he said. “It was clear that what they wore was ripped and dirty.”
He added that the boys were so dirty “that each child needed multiple baths and the bath water turned black as soon as the children sat in it. “They were obese – morbidly obese,” he added. “They had creases in their skin and had sores in the creases.”
In mitigation, Barrie van den Berg, for the defence, told the court that the mother had probably been suffering from depression during the period in question, that her mother had died and she had been left by her husband.
He said: “Following going into temporary care, the children have now gone into long term care and for a mother who has a number of difficulties ... the loss of her children like that is a punishment in itself.”
After the hearing, the police officer in charge of the case, Detective Constable Tamsyn May from the child abuse investigation team, said: “It has been a sensitive investigation and the defendant has pad the ultimate sacrifice with the removal of her children but it is unacceptable in today’s society to raise children in such bad conditions that are detrimental to their health and wellbeing.”