Police who raided the home of three young children found them living in squalor, their only food being bread and mouldy vegetables.
The appalling conditions endured by the children were described by a barrister at Carlisle Crown Court, where a judge imposed a suspended jail sentence on their mother after she admitted three counts of neglect.
Her partner has admitted the same charge.
Prosecutor Sarah Magill said the prosecution was brought after police raided the woman’s home in Workington shortly after 9am on May 18.
The couple were at home with their toddler son, while two older children were out of the house at their primary school, said Miss Magill. The police officers were greeted by a strong smell of urine and cannabis.
The smell was strongest in the bedroom, where police found faeces on a child’s toybox and a loaf of bread on a shelf, apparently put there by one of the children.
“The smell of urine was overpowering,” said the barrister.
There was dirty clothing all over the house, with garments piled 5ft high in one room.
On one floor there was evidence of a white powdery substance while in the kitchen there was faeces and a pool of urine on the floor.
“The fridge freezer contained nothing more than mouldy vegetables and two bags of frozen vegetables,” said Miss Magill.
The investigation revealed how the older children’s teachers intervened after the children arrived at school hungry.
The barrister said: “The children hadn’t been fed, and on one occasion they reported that their parents had eaten all the breakfast, leaving them to go hungry.”
Social services were involved with the children since 2016 and initially their home was in an acceptable condition. But in January, the situation deteriorated.
When interviewed in May, the parents admitted their home was dirty and that there was insufficient food.
Jamie Baxter, for the mother, who can not be named for legal reasons, said she was emotional and very remorseful. The triggers for her dysfunctional lifestyle were to be found in her traumatic upbringing, he said.
“There are positives,” said the barrister.
“There is ongoing work with children’s services. She is working towards getting her children back with a family assessment worker and she’s still in regular contact with them.”
Mr Baxter said there had been a dramatic change in conditions in the house in the three weeks before the police raid. But the rubbish had now all been removed.
Judge Barbara Forrester
Judge Barbara Forrester noted that the defendant, who has separated from her partner, had not blamed him but accepted responsibility for her share of the situation. “It was obviously unacceptable,” she said.
But the judge said she could suspend the year long jail sentence that she would impose for two years so the children can continue to see their mother.
She also imposed 120 hours of unpaid work, with 35 days of rehabilitation, and a victim surcharge orf £140. Judge Forrester warned that if there were further problems the woman would be jailed.
The woman’s partner will be sentenced at a later date.