POLICE officers sent to a house in Carlisle after neighbours complained about shouting found a five-year-old boy inside with two unconscious men.

After answering the door, the worried youngster told the police officers he could not wake his father, who had been put into his bed by a friend, while in the property's living room there was a second male, also unconscious.

Both men had passed out after using drugs.

At Carlisle’s Rickergate court, the boy’s father was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to a child cruelty offence.

Prosecutor George Shelley described what happened.

Police were called on March 2 by residents who were concerned by a disturbance inside a nearby property. The neighbours reported hearing loud shouting, with the word “gear” - usually a reference to illegal drugs - mentioned repeatedly. 

Police initially attended “multiple addresses” but the house involved was not identified until the following morning, when officers carried out a welfare check.

Mr Shelley said: “The door was answered by a five-year-old, who said his dad was asleep upstairs and he couldn’t wake him. Another male was unconscious and not responsive in the lounge, but the boy confirmed that he was not his father.”

Taking the officers upstairs, the boy led them to his bed, in which his father lay unconscious. Despite the child repeatedly shaking his father’s shoulders, the man did not wake up.

It was only after five minutes of trying that the officers managed to rouse the man. “He was high and intoxicated,” continued Mr Shelley.

The boy later told police that he had come downstairs the previous evening to find three men asleep. He tried to wake up his father but could not.

One of the other men carried his father up the stairs and put him into the boy’s bed, where he remained until the police arrived.

The child later told a professional who spoke to him about what happened that he had got his own breakfast when his father – at the time his sole carer – was not there.

“I was trying to learn how to get my own as dad and his friends were asleep,” he said.

The boy said he had been worried when he saw the police arrive. The man, who can not be named for legal reasons, later told the police he had "made a mistake".

Anthony Wilson, for the defendant, said it was hoped that the prosecution would make the defendant realise the position he had put himself in. “The little lad wants him back,” said the lawyer.

He said the defendant had to sort out his life.

Challenged by District Judge John Temperley about the defendant’s "lack of honesty" when dealing with probation staff, Mr Wilson said: “It’s part and parcel of drug misuse; people are not as forthcoming as they should be.

"They give answers they think people want to hear.

“He needs to address his issues, rather than hide them from professionals who can spot a lie from 100 yards. It’s clear that he needs support.”

The boy had been "highly vulnerable," said the District Judge.

He told the defendant, who has more than 40 previous offences on his record: “You were, at the time, his sole carer.

"Not only did you use drugs in your home when your child was in your care; you also invited others into your home, who were clearly also using drugs. You were highly intoxicated when the police attended your address.”

"The police became involved after neighbours heard an argument about drugs.” Despite the guilty plea, and the lack of similar previous offending, the judge said he could not draw back from imposing immediate custody.

He jailed the man for 20 weeks. He will be released on licence at the half way point.