A mum who let her Peterborough house develop into ‘squalid’ conditions sobbed in the dock after a court heard her teenage daughter did not want her to go to prison.
The 43-year-old woman - who The Peterborough Telegraph is not naming to protect the identity of her daughter - was given a suspended jail sentence after admitting one count of child cruelty at Peterborough Crown Court today (Tuesday).
The court heard the woman’s daughter was left overweight, and suffered serious personal hygiene issues as a result of living in the home.
When police officers attended the house, they were met with a swarm of flies - and one officer was almost sick as a result of the smell.
Milk more than a year old was found in the fridge, with cat faeces all over the kitchen floor, and bin bags cluttering every room. The victim’s adult sibling said when they went into the youngster’s room, they came out covered in fleas.
Judge Matthew Lowe said the mother had ‘let her daughter down’ as he sentenced her.
The court was told the girl was now in foster care, and ‘thriving’.
Marti Blair, prosecuting, said: “The girl attended school, but was quiet, and would fear social interactions. Her appearance was she was overweight, grubby and unkempt, with hygiene issues.”
Miss Blair said the school started proceedings to work with social services to help the family - but said the mum would often lock the door and not answer when they knocked, and would not answer the phone either.
Police eventually went to the house in February last year - although the mum was not in. Miss Blair showed the court pictures of the home, and said: “They found there was cat faeces everywhere. There were flies in the fridge. The kitchen was a tip, there was rubbish everywhere, and there were pots and pans with mould on.
“Food would be infested with flies if it was left out. There was milk more than a year old, curdled in the fridge. The house would stink of smoke.”
She added: “When officers attended, they were overcome by the smell, the cat faeces, a swam of flies. One officer gagged and thought he was going to be sick. “He said it would not be safe for anyone to stay in the house - and called the RSPCA in relation to the cats.”
The court was told there was rarely fresh food in the house - when the mum went shopping, she would only buy unhealthy food.
Following the police visit to the house, they contacted the defendant, and arrested her at Asda.
In police interview, she accepted responsibility for her actions.
Mauro Maselli, defending, said the mum had a number of issues in her life, including being neglected when she was a child.
He said she had also been the victim of domestic abuse, and had been clinically depressed.
He said: “She is not contesting care proceedings, as she feels her daughter can have a brighter future with someone else.
“She said the foster carer was ‘an amazing woman.’
The court was told the mum and the daughter have regular contact, and the daughter had said she would be devastated if her mum was jailed.
Judge Lowe, sentencing, said: “You let your daughter down. Your inadequacies as a mother have had a profound impact on emotional well being.
“The neglect was over a significant period.”
The mum was given an eight month sentence, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to carry out 30 days rehabilitation activity requirement with the probation service, and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
DC Julie Ellison, who investigated, said: “This was a shocking case of neglect of a defenceless child by someone who should have been there to protect her.
“Authorities tried on a number of occasions to support the woman but unfortunately she didn’t help herself.
“We are pleased that justice has been done and the girl can hopefully now enjoy a brighter future.”