A neglected 7-year-old boy was found living among piles of rubbish and drug paraphernalia in a "disgusting" home with his parents, whose drug addictions prevented them from looking after him.

In December 2018, police attended an address in Leicester after concerns were raised about the boy, who hadn't turned up at school for six months.

Alexander Wolfson, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court the officers found the house in "absolute squalor".

"The conditions were disgusting, with rotting food and piles of rubbish everywhere," he said.

"The kitchen was rancid with a couple of tins of food left open and evidence of mouse droppings. The stove was inaccessible, there was mouldy food in the fridge and it was difficult to move around."

He said police also found uncapped needles and other heroin paraphernalia "lying about". When officers opened a drawer in the boy's bedroom cupboard, "a cloud of flies flew into the air".

"There were faeces marks across a wall," Wolfson added.

The boy told officers he'd eaten "some cookies" that day but didn't seem to have eaten anything else.

In a later interview he said he ate bread and butter with ketchup at home, and played a lot of Xbox games. He had no bedtime and went to sleep whenever he felt like it.

He was placed into short-term foster care, where his carers reported he didn't want to wash his hair or brush his teeth and was "terrified of flies". He was permanently hungry and had difficulty differentiating between day and night.

When he was placed back in school, he was found to be two years behind his age group but had no medical issues.

Wolfson said the boy is doing well and will be placed into long-term foster care, but is "desperate" to see his parents.

His father, who is in his 40s, told police he had not used drugs for several years, but relapsed after multiple people who had been close to him died. He didn't seek help for his addiction because he was afraid his son would be taken away.

He disagreed with the prosecution's claims that his son was not fed or bathed, saying the boy didn't like washing himself and was fed on cereal and takeaways.

Philip Gibbs, mitigating for the father, said: "The defendant loves his son. It's clear... he failed in his duty to care for his son."

The father said his son was well cared for before the family moved into the new house, which he and his partner "struggled" to maintain.

"He apologises to his son over and above all else," Gibbs said.

"They have supervised contact and the bond remains.

"The child loves his dad and his mum – it's a human tragedy.

"It's alarming a child can disappear out of the school system for that length of time."

The boy's mother, who is in her 30s, cried throughout the hearing. She said she accepted her home was in a poor condition and regretted failing to arrange her son's schooling.

Paul Prior, mitigating for the mother, said she understands she's not capable of caring for her son and is "deeply remorseful".

"He's the only thing I wake up for," she was quoted as saying. "He's perfect and I've let him down. He's the only good thing I've done with my life."

Read More

Today's Top Stories

Both parents pleaded guilty to child cruelty by neglect.

Judge Ebraham Mooncey said it was a difficult case to sentence as both defendants were "incapable" of parenting.

"When it involves an innocent child who has clearly suffered, anyone's instincts would be to mete the harshest penalties on those responsible," he said, but added the boy is "fiercely loyal" to his parents and wants to continue contact with them.

"He obviously now has a bright future and the hardship he's suffered is potentially something that can be put behind him.

"I'm dealing with two people who weren't, by any measure, capable of looking after a child... This wasn't evil out-and-out cruelty."

Both parents were sentenced to 10 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, with one year of drug rehabilitation, and have been placed on home detention at separate addresses.