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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mother kept boy, 10, locked up in a coal bunker for more than a year with only a mattress and potty

By Pamela Owen

A 10 year-old boy was forced to live in a coal bunker for more than a year, by his own mother.

The youngster slept in the padlocked outhouse every night and was imprisoned for hours at a time during the day if he misbehaved.

While the boy's mother, in her 30s, and her partner, in his 40s, lived in comfort in the main house the boy's room contained a soiled mattress, a dirty sleeping bag and a urine-filled potty.

The soiled mattress and dirty sleeping bag in the coal bunker where the boy was kept for more than a year

A tiny window and a badly-wired lightbulb provided his only light and he was often fed lumps of butter or raw meat.

Police described the conditions as 'barbaric' after the boy's mother and her partner admitted child cruelty in court.

Detective Constable Matt Normanton, of Lancashire Police, said he'd 'never seen anything like it'.

'The child was found to be kept in a cell, living in poor, inhumane conditions,' he said.

'It was smaller than a [police] cell. It was just big enough for a single mattress and a ceramic potty which was full of urine.

'The child had been scratching stuff on the walls while he was locked up. It's barbaric.

'There was no air, it was really stale, and cold. There was a small window on the far side which was sealed and a single light bulb that was a bodge job.

'There was a bowl with some stale food in it. It's nothing short of being a prisoner.'

He said the couple had admitted to keeping the boy locked in the outhouse overnight - and during the day they would send him in there if he was naughty and stole food from the kitchen.

The couple, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the boy, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court on Friday to a charge of child cruelty by neglect between January 1 2010 and January 25 2011.

They pleaded not guilty to one charge of ill-treating the boy in a manner to cause unnecessary suffering or injury.

Concerns about the boy's welfare were reported to police last year.

When officers and social workers called at the house they found the boy living in horrific condition in an old outhouse which had been built to the side of the property.

It had been boarded up from the outside and a wall knocked through from the family's lounge to make an entrance, which was padlocked.

When interviewed by police the boy said 'it felt like living in a box' and 'creepy'.

The boy was given medical treatment and has since been placed in care.

Det Con Normanton added that throughout the police's investigation 'the blame was put on the child' by the parents and he'd been 'ostracised from his family'.

Judge Anthony Russell warned the boy's mother and her partner they could be jailed.

The pair were bailed for sentencing on May 18 and were told not to contact the boy directly or indirectly and not to have any unsupervised contact or communication with a child under 16 unless supervised by the social services.



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