A DOCTOR who treated twin babies rescued from a life of ‘utter squalor’ said they were ‘the worse case of malnutrition he had ever seen outside the developing world’.
A judge was told how police officers who brought five children out of the terraced house in Sheffield in June had difficulty not being physically sick in the excrement-smeared bedrooms and kitchen.
Sheffield Crown Court heard that one of the 12-month-old twin boys was critically ill and close to death. The other was also seriously ill.
But officers were astonished to find a neatly-kept lounge, filled with state-of-the art electrical appliances – a room ‘equipped for adult leisure’. Yesterday the children’s parents, David Askew and Sarah Whittaker, both 24, were each jailed for seven years after admitting five counts of cruelty.
The court heard the horror at the three-bedroom house was discovered when Whittaker phoned for an ambulance in June because one of the twins was ‘lifeless’.
Paramedics found he was skeletal and grey.
The youngster was taken to hospital with his brother where he was put on a ventilator.
Andrew Hatton, prosecuting, said the boy was suffering from hypothermia, hypoglycaemia (deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream) and was badly malnourished.
He said both twins weighed just over four kilograms (8.8lbs), less than when they were nine-months-old.
They were 40 per cent of the weight expected for a one-year-old.
Mr Hatton said the most seriously ill twin was passing live maggots into his nappy which were later identified as the larva of the common housefly.
Both boys’ growth was consistent with a four to fivemonth-old, he said.
Mr Hatton said: ‘One doctor said it was the worse case of malnutrition he had ever come across in the UK or outside of the developing world’.
The other children in the house – now aged eight, four and three – were also living in terrible conditions. Police found dog and human excrement smeared on the bedroom floors, walls and windows. The children were sleeping on urine soaked mattresses.
The three-year-old boy seemed to be locked in his room. The officers found him huddled in a corner wearing soiled underpants.
His elder sisters were in a similar state, the court heard. Mr Hatton said the officers found the kitchen in a state with a food cupboard containing just a tin of mushy peas, baked beans and corned beef.
The fridge had two cartons of milk in it and the freezer contained only a few sprouts and three fishcakes. They did find some powdered baby milk.
But Mr Hatton told the judge the living room was a ‘complete contrast’ to the squalor in which the children were allowed to live.
It was a room which was equipped for ‘adult leisure’.