The children were exposed to violence, starved of food and toothpaste – resulting in emergency dental treatment to have teeth extracted – and left ‘dirty’ for days on end after not being looked after.
The Hampshire house was transformed into a dumping ground while the garden was full of rubbish to the point only a small space was left for the children to play.
The suffering endured by the infants took a turn for the worse when the south Hampshire mum entered a relationship with an ‘angry male’ who unleashed violence, misery and fear on the household during their turbulent time together, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.
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‘He always hit mummy with his fists,’ one of the children told police in a statement, before adding ‘but she always hits him back’.
The child added: ‘He spat in my face and said he would get people to beat me up.
‘I tell mum all the time if she wants to keep us she has to get rid of him. She is constantly scared.’
Another of the children said: ‘He picked me up by my head. He would do scary things on his phone and show me.
‘He would play with my toys and then break them up. He would try and lock me in my room.’
Amid the constant ‘shouting and swearing’ at the children there were also questions over the man’s ‘inappropriate sexual conduct’ towards the children, although the court heard no charges were brought for this.
The boyfriend stored a machete in the house and used it to wreak havoc.
‘A TV was stabbed by a machete that was left lying around the house – the kids had to hide it,’ judge William Ashworth said.
‘There were holes in the walls – the residue of extreme anger where the wall was smashed.
‘It is hard to imagine what a child feels having experienced that, let alone repeatedly.’
After police were called round to investigate an officer was left shocked at the state of the house – with him describing it as ‘diabolical and atrocious state’.
Following the officer’s visit and speaking with the children they were then subjected to more threatening behaviour.
When police returned they found a machete but the mum ‘denied he would do anything’ and said ‘she loved him’.
During the torment, the children also missed spells of school.
‘It will take a very long time for the children to get over the experiences,’ judge Ashworth said.
‘When the police got involved the children had to go to the dentist to have teeth extracted.
‘They would go to school infrequently and unwashed. You just wonder what it would feel like for the children to go through the school gates.’
He added: ‘(One of the children) was playing outside in the back yard in a small space because the rest of the area was taken up by pile after pile of bin bags which had been slung out.
‘It’s as if the chaos has shrunk their world to this small area.’
The judge said the children were ‘not secure’ both physically and emotionally with a damaged front door meaning intruders could enter or the children could walk out.
He added: ‘The children were living in fear.’
But despite the struggles of the children being ‘foremost in my mind’, the judge had to consider the mum’s position when deciding whether to jail her.
He told the court the mum, who has severe anxiety and depression, was in a ‘chronic state of dependency’ and ‘justified her existence’ and desire to not be ‘alone’ by staying in the harrowing relationship. ‘But where was the love for your children?’ judge Ashworth asked.
‘You saw all these terrible things happening but still wouldn’t get rid of him.’
He added: ‘The children won’t speak to you or see you now. No powers the court can impose are greater than that punishment.
‘But the children need to visibly see you are being punished. It may help to dislodge some of their anger towards you.’
The judge then sentenced the mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to eight months jail suspended for two years.
The parent, who is no longer in a relationship with the boyfriend, was also given 30 rehabilitation days and 100 hours unpaid work after admitting three charges of cruelty to a person under 16.
The children now live elsewhere.